Yaya Toure claimed two goals as Manchester City got their Barclays Premier League title bid up and running with an impressive 3-0 victory at West Brom.
The Ivorian midfielder had been rumoured to be unhappy at the Etihad Stadium last season, but after reaffirming his commitment to the club in the summer, he showed just what he is capable of by leading the Citizens to a convincing triumph.
The pre-match focus had been on debutant Raheem Sterling, but as the ex-Liverpool man had a quiet night, it was the visitors’ old stagers Toure and David Silva, who stole the limelight by producing the type of performances that were so important to their last two title successes.
There was more than an element of fortune over City’s ninth minute opener as Toure’s tame low shot appeared to take a nick off both Silva and West Brom defender, Craig Dawson on its way into the net. Silva, who was quite sensational throughout, could yet claim the goal after replays showed he connected with an inventive attempt to outwit Boaz Myhill.
However, there was no confusion over City’s second as Toure exchanged a one-two with Wilfried Bony before curving a sublime 25-yard shot beyond the reach of Myhill.
Tony Pulis had opted for a 4-4-2 system with new signing, Rickie Lambert and Saido Berahino in attack, but it completely backfired as City bossed the midfield and cruised through the opening 45 minutes. West Brom changed it after the break and improved to some extent, before Vincent Kompany rose brilliantly to thump a near-post header into the opposite corner and crush the hosts’ hopes of a fightback.
Following Chelsea’s draw and Arsenal’s defeat this was the perfect start for City who will be hoping they become the sixth team in succession to lift the title after winning their opening match of the season on a Monday night.
Pre-match: It’s all about the new boys at the Hawthorns. Raheem Sterling makes his bow for Man City while West Brom hand Rickie Lambert, James Chester andJames McCLean their respective debuts. Talismanic frontman Sergio Aguero is on the bench for last year’s runners-up with Wilfried Bony leading the line.
9′ – GOAL! WBA 0-1 MAN CITY. The visitors take the lead. Navas rescues a City attack on the right and tees up Yaya Toure who sees his low shot from 20 yards nick off Silva and Dawson on its way into the net.
24′ – GOAL! WBA 0-2 MAN CITY. No doubt about this one. Toure makes it two with a delicious 20-yard curler into the corner after exchanging a neat one-two with Bony.
41′ – MAN CITY CHANCE! Sterling races clear on Myhill but sees his low shot well blocked by the West Brom stopper. The England winger should have scored and his side-foot attempt was far too close to the keeper.
48′ – WBA CHANCE! Lambert steps up and curls a lovely 25-yard free kick just over the bar. Hart was scampering there. Unlucky.
59′ – GOAL! WBA 0-3 MAN CITY. It’s 3-0 and surely game over. Silva’s left-wing corner is met by a header at the near post from Kompany who guides it beyond Myhill. In fact, it could well have come off his shoulder.
Man City completed 692 passes in this game; 211 more than any other team on MD1 of the 2015-16 Premier League season.
Vincent Kompany scored in his first PL appearance of 2015-16; this after failing to score in all 25 PL games during 2014-15.
The Citizens have won six of their last seven season openers in the Premier League (D1).
The last team to complete more passes that City in the first half of a PL game was Swansea (461) v C.Palace back in March 2014.
Man City have won five of their last six Premier League visits to the Hawthorns (D1).