By Rhonda Richards | In Match Reports - Away Games
Manchester City ended their run of three straight defeats with a comfortable 2-0 away win against West Brom in a game that was all about Mario Balotelli.
Micah was named among the substitutes and Carlos Tevez returned to the starting eleven as Roberto Mancini changed things up following the midweek Europa League loss, and with the manager looking for an immediate response from his men there was an early scare.
A mix up at the back between Pablo Zabaleta and Kolo Toure saw the latter’s interception drop just wide of Joe Hart’s post, with Mancini’s heart most definitely in mouth.
Despite that, City were camped in West Brom’s half for much of the opening 20 minutes as Zabaleta, Tevez and Yaya Toure threatened to break the deadlock.
And the travelling support didn’t have a long wait to get their throats warmed up as a lovely pass by David Silva set Tevez off down the right, and the Argentina forward’s powerful drive across the six yard box was met by the foot of Balotelli to make it 1-0.
The hosts were rattled and Balotelli seized again minutes later after another fine pass by Silva. The Spaniard’s reverse ball opened it up for the young striker and, using his strength, he was able to hold off the defender and find the back of the net with a fine finish and open up a two goal lead.
Despite the home side’s best efforts for the remainder of the half, the lively Nicky Shorey and co struggled to break down City’s defence – due in part to the ongoing threat Balotelli and Silva posed at the other end.
There were to be no changes for either side at the interval and a scrappy opening period greeted the fans as City sat content to disrupt West Brom’s play.
The visitors were given a rude awakening, however, as Simon Cox struck the post with a 22-yard drive after 10 minutes of the second half, and in the ensuing scramble Youssof Mulumbu had a penalty appeal waved away.
City’s comfort zone was soon to be demolished as West Brom began to find some form of rhythm. An innocuous booking for Balotelli after 58 minutes was soon followed by a tussle with Mulumbu minutes later, and the City striker was handed his marching orders to reduce Mancini’s side to 10 men.
City was understandably disrupted as their opponents looked to capitalise on the numerical advantage with little success, though Chris Brunt went close with a curling effort that tested the palms of Hart.
Frustratingly for Roberto Di Matteo, his side’s player advantage was to end with 10 minutes remaining. Tevez did well to hold up the ball and Mulumbu had seen enough, sliding in from behind and bringing the diminutive forward down and receiving a second yellow to follow Balotelli for an early shower.
The sending off ended any hope West Brom had of clawing their way back into the match, and Mancini’s men saw out the remaining period to hang on to a much needed win.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Toure, Kompany, Boateng, De Jong, Barry, Toure Yaya, Silva, Tevez, Balotelli. Subs: Given, Richards, Milner, Adebayor, Adam Johnson, Kolarov, Vieira.
West Brom: Carson, Shorey, Tamas, Pablo, Cech, Mulumbu, Scharner, Brunt, Cox, Thomas, Fortune. Subs: Myhill, Tchoyi, Barnes, Miller, Reid, Dorrans, Odemwingie.