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Manchester City produced a dominant performance to beat West Bromwich Albion 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday and move within touching distance of securing a top-four spot in the Premier League.
Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring on 27 minutes after staunch early defensive work from West Brom, and Kevin De Bruyne added another before the half-hour mark.
Yaya Toure then wrapped up the points with City’s third soon after half-time before Hal Robson-Kanu netted a close-range consolation late on.
With Arsenal having defeated Sunderland on Tuesday, City have still not definitely secured a spot in the UEFA Champions League next season. But a final-day point against Watford will be enough to guarantee a top-four finish.
The Manchester Evening News‘ James Robson provided the team sheets ahead of kick-off:
James Robson @JamesRobsonMEN
For one last time at the Etihad this season https://t.co/GYnhxAuLwk
5/16/2017, 6:05:21 PM
West Brom’s approach was obvious early on as they sat back and invited City to try and break them down.
It proved a tricky task for Pep Guardiola’s men, with their best early chance an Aleksandar Kolarov free-kick that forced a save from Ben Foster.
However, De Bruyne then set up Jesus for a tap-in in the 27th minute, and the confidence emerged from the hosts.
De Bruyne curled home a beautiful finish from the edge of the area just two minutes later to double the lead following slick buildup play involving most of City’s attackers.
It was the Belgian playmaker’s sixth league goal of the season, while his work for the opener saw him reach a landmark for the Manchester outfit, per Sky Sports Statto:
Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto
Kevin De Bruyne has made the most assists in the 16-17 PL & has set a new @ManCity club record for most assists in a PL season https://t.co/6dtrUkZqTz
5/16/2017, 8:02:26 PM
West Brom were fortunate to make it to half-time only 2-0 down, but City did add the third 12 minutes after the break.
Toure exchanged passes with Sergio Aguero to bypass the Baggies’ defence, and the Ivorian calmly slotted his side-footed finish into the back of the net.
It was then time for the introduction of Pablo Zabaleta for his final home appearance in a City shirt, per Squawka:
Squawka News @SquawkaNews
Pablo Zabaleta comes on for his final ever appearance at the Etihad.
Club legend. 👏 https://t.co/OnP2P4nPb9
5/16/2017, 8:21:29 PM
A celebratory atmosphere engulfed the Etihad Stadium for the final exchanges—only briefly dented when Robson-Kanu turned home Allan Nyom‘s excellent ball from the right in the 87th minute—and it was an impressive performance from City to all but secure their top-four status ahead of the final game of the season.
However, there will be regrets that the kind of performance the Sky Blues produced on Tuesday were too rare for them to launch a proper title challenge in 2016-17.