Toure double inspires dominant Man City victory over Baggies
Manchester City began their Premier League campaign successfully with a 3-0 triumph over West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns, with Yaya Toure’s brace and a Vincent Kompany header earning all three points on the road.
Midfield maestro Toure returned to his former best with a deadly double, after surging forward from deep to dispatch two delightful strikes, while captain Kompany ferociously headed home the third in the West Midlands.
City instantly dominated proceedings, with David Silva and Toure getting heavily involved in swift build-up play, and both dictated the pace of the game from the beginning.
There were two former Liverpool forwards making their Premier League debuts for new clubs, and it was Raheem Sterling who had a more enjoyable start, looking dangerous in his side’s steady spell of possession.
The other, Rickie Lambert, was pegged back deep in his own half during a bright half from Manuel Pellegrini’s men, but even with every man behind the ball, the Baggies succumbed to the pressure, as Toure’s low driven effort glided into the bottom corner after just nine minutes.
There was a hint of a deflection as the the Ivory Coast midfielder’s shot trickled past an onlooking Boaz Myhill, but the towering anchorman showed great drive to arrive in the perfect position to tuck home the opener.
Silva continued to find pockets of space in the West Brom half, constantly playing one-twos with his teammates and controlling the tempo, as the hosts maintained a supremely cautious approach, even more so than a usual Tony Pulis team.
Wilfried Bony, preferred in attack to Sergio Aguero, had a half-chance to double City’s lead on 20 minutes, after Sterling flowingly linked-up with the instrumental Silva to unleash a dangerous cross from the left, but the frontman saw his tamed strike blocked.
Toure soon pounced again, bursting to the edge of the Baggies box and clinically dispatching a curling effort into the top right corner, after an intricate combination with Bony on 23 minutes.
West Brom never looked like troubling Joe Hart in the City goal in the first period, with Lambert’s long-range free-kick their closest effort, though the former Anfield striker’s effort was more in hope than expectation.
Myhill was finally able to thwart an attack after the half hour mark, getting down rapidly to stop Bony’s goal-bound effort from making it 3-0, after Aleksandar Kolarov had made a well-timed run down the left flank before delivering.
Baggies skipper Darren Fletcher summed up his side’s first-half performance with a rash challenge on an advancing Silva, with the Scot being booked for the tackle which was made out of pure frustration.
Although, after a few words from a visibly angered Pulis during the break, West Brom began the second period strongly, with Republic of Ireland winger James McClean’s defiant run forward resulting in a close chance for Saido Berahino.
Lambert became somewhat of a set-piece specialist during his time with Southampton, and the Baggies targetman came close to salvaging a goal back for his new club, as a whipped free-kick narrowly sailed over the crossbar.
James Morrison then gifted Berahino with a glorious opportunity after 50 minutes, with the England Under-21 striker unable to covert from a chipped through ball into the six-year box.
After a freeflowing start from City, and a mini resurgence from Pulis’ men, proceedings became scrappy towards the hour mark, with the home side seeing several cautions, including that of Craig Gardner and new signing James Chester.
Leading by example, City skipper Vincent Kompany climbed higher than Joleon Lescott to furiously head home his side’s third from a corner, inflicting an uphill task for the Baggies to climb.
To increase West Brom’s defensive misery, Pellegrini introduced star man Aguero, though the returning Argentine attacker was unable to add to City’s treble of strikes, despite appearing threatening, as they kicked-off their Premier League campaign with a comfortable 3-0 away triumph.