City slip up as West Brom snatch a draw

Premier League

Manchester City 1-1 West Bromwich Albion

Manchester City lost more ground in the Premier League title race as battling West Brom earned a crucial point with a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

City needed a response after their pedestrian Manchester derby performance and took the lead on the half hour thanks to Ilkay Gundogan’s clinical strike, but the Baggies hit back before the break as Semi Ajayi’s strike deflected in off Ruben Dias (43).

City laid siege to the West Brom goal in the second half but found Sam Johnstone in inspired form as a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick and stoppage-time headers from Gundogan and Raheem Sterling were brilliantly kept out.

The draw leaves City sixth in the table, five points behind leaders Tottenham and Liverpool, while 19th-placed West Brom move to within two points of safety after securing an unexpected yet thoroughly-deserved point.

City looked to be suffering a hangover from Saturday’s drab Manchester derby as they dominated possession but found clear-cut openings hard to come by.

Their lethargic start played into the hands of a resilient Baggies outfit, who should have taken the lead inside eight minutes when the ball ricocheted into the path of Karlan Grant, but Ederson saved his tame effort.

City steadily mounted pressure and eventually made the breakthrough on the half hour as Sterling’s cutback was clinically dispatched by Gundogan.

Ilkay Gundogan celebrates after putting City in front.

The German’s first Premier League goal in a year looked to have secured the hosts the lead at the break, but West Brom had other ideas.

City failed to clear a free-kick and the Baggies recycled play as Ajayi outmuscled Nathan Ake and got a shot away that took a wicked deflection of Dias on its way past Ederson.

It was the first goal City had conceded in over 10 hours of Premier League football and they emerged from the break intent at restoring their lead.

City peppered the West Brom goal but found Sam Johnstone in impenetrable form as efforts from Sterling and De Bruyne were kept out.

The introduction of Sergio Aguero only added to the mounting City pressure, which very nearly told three minutes from time when de Bruyne rifled a free-kick towards the bottom corner, but Johnstone was on hand again to keep City at bay.

But the Baggies stopper wasn’t done there. As the game entered four minutes of added time, Johnstone brilliantly thwarted headers from Gundogan and Sterling at point-blank range and it was too little, too late for City as Slaven Bilic’s side clinched a priceless point.

Manchester City travel to Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday at 3pm, while West Brom host rivals Aston Villa on Sunday at 7.15pm.

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