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Manchester City 1-1 West Brom: Pep Guardiola’s side held to frustrating draw

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Ederson is beaten by a deflected goal
Ruben Dias’ own goal was the first goal Manchester City had conceded in all competitions in 608 minutes

Relegation-threatened West Brom picked up their first ever point at Etihad Stadium as goalkeeper Sam Johnstone made two point-blank stoppage-time saves to deny Manchester City victory.

City seemed on course for their customary home win against Albion when Ilkay Gundogan applied a first-time finish to Raheem Sterling’s cutback after half an hour.

But the midfielder’s first goal in 22 games was cancelled out before half-time when a volley on the turn from Semi Ajayi, which appeared to be going wide, deflected off Ruben Dias and wrong-footed City keeper Ederson two minutes before the break.

It was the first goal City had conceded in 608 minutes and was followed by a valiant backs-to-the-wall effort from Slaven Bilic’s visitors, who defended heroically.

But it would all have counted for nothing without the efforts of Johnstone, who first denied Gundogan, then Sterling in a frenetic finale.

West Brom will take great confidence from the result, even though they remain second from bottom of the Premier League.

However, for City, it was definitely two points they did not expect to drop – leaving them sixth, five points off the top of the table.

Battling Baggies scrap for point

The visitors had been to Etihad Stadium on nine previous occasions – and lost every time. Their hopes could not have been especially high on their latest trip, given they had won once all season and that success – at home to bottom club Sheffield United – was the only time they avoided defeat in a run of six matches.

Little wonder Bilic’s future is the topic of major debate – or that the Baggies boss looked edgy as he tried to urge his team on during an opening period that could hardly have been more one-sided.

City enjoyed 77% possession, yet at the start of the half came a golden chance that West Brom should have taken – and at the end of the first period, a scruffy one that they did.

With a restricted budget, Bilic pushed the Baggies board to pay Huddersfield £15m for striker Karlan Grant on deadline day.

A return of one goal from nine games before this one is not good enough – and he will not have many better chances than the one he had after seven minutes – straight in front of goal, 10 yards out, with only Ederson to beat.

Grant’s shot lacked conviction, was not close enough to the corner and allowed the keeper to save.

Ajayi’s deflected equaliser was unexpected, but it gave West Brom something to cling to. In partnership with Dara O’Shea, Ajayi was outstanding in the second half.

Despite offering no threat at the other end, the visitors’ collective effort was far better than anything previously produced in a season where they had conceded 25 goals in their first 12 games, more than any other side.

And Johnstone’s heroics at the end ensured the defenders’ efforts gained a tangible reward.

Offensive struggles for Guardiola’s City

City still have some truly great players but it feels as though the losses of midfielder David Silva to Real Sociedad in the close season, and Sergio Aguero to injury for much of the campaign, have robbed them of key attacking threats.

For all their possession, clear chances were at a premium. Benjamin Mendy and Rodri were both off-target with efforts that could be classed as more hopeful than threatening.

Sterling’s inventiveness created Gundogan’s goal as he delayed his cutback just long enough to tee up the Germany midfielder in the perfect spot, but too often City chose the wrong option and ended up running into a red and yellow-shirted wall.

Johnstone denied Sterling after the interval with a smart reaction save but as desperate clearance followed desperate clearance and block followed block, City boss Pep Guardiola became more and more agitated.

At one point he almost resorted to chasing after the ball when it went out of play to try and maintain his side’s attacking momentum, and when fourth official Anthony Taylor was about to signal the minimum amount of additional time to be played, Guardiola amusingly stuck his head over the board, as if to say the number was wrong.

Back on the bench after a bout of gastroenteritis, the introduction of Aguero midway through the second period signalled fresh hope for City. But the Argentine missed his best chance three minutes from time – and former Manchester United keeper Johnstone did the rest.

Player of the match

JohnstoneSam Johnstone

West Bromwich Albion

  1. Squad number1Player nameJohnstone

  2. Squad number6Player nameAjayi

  3. Squad number27Player nameO’Shea

  4. Squad number18Player nameGallagher

  5. Squad number2Player nameFurlong

  6. Squad number3Player nameGibbs

  7. Squad number10Player namePhillips

  8. Squad number11Player nameDiangana

  9. Squad number19Player nameSawyers

  10. Squad number8Player nameLivermore

  11. Squad number17Player nameKrovinovic

  12. Squad number15Player nameAustin

  13. Squad number22Player namePeltier

  14. Squad number29Player nameGrant

Line-ups

Man City

  • 31Ederson
  • 27CanceloBooked at 45mins
  • 3Rúben Dias
  • 6AkéBooked at 90mins
  • 22MendySubstituted forWalkerat 75′minutes
  • 16Rodri
  • 8Gündogan
  • 7Sterling
  • 17De Bruyne
  • 47FodenSubstituted forAgüeroat 76′minutes
  • 9Gabriel Jesus

Substitutes

  • 2Walker
  • 10Agüero
  • 13Steffen
  • 14Laporte
  • 20Bernardo Silva
  • 21Torres
  • 26Mahrez

West Brom

  • 1Johnstone
  • 2Furlong
  • 6Ajayi
  • 27O’Shea
  • 3Gibbs
  • 19SawyersBooked at 90mins
  • 10PhillipsSubstituted forPeltierat 87′minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 8LivermoreSubstituted forKrovinovicat 80′minutes
  • 18GallagherBooked at 40mins
  • 11Diangana
  • 29GrantSubstituted forAustinat 70′minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Robinson
  • 13Grosicki
  • 15Austin
  • 17Krovinovic
  • 20Ivanovic
  • 22Peltier
  • 25Button

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