Match Reports

Foden settles it for City

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Albion put in a strong performance, but are beaten 1-0 at the Etihad.

By Bruce Talbot • 13 January 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Percy Tau made his Premier League debut for Albion tonight.
  • Manchester City 1 Albion 0

Phil Foden's well-taken goal just before the break meant a good performance by an understrength Albion went unrewarded at the Etihad.

The England international was a threat all night and finished off a fine pass from City's talisman Kevin De Bruyne just before the break to settle things.

In front of England head coach Gareth Southgate, depleted Albion gave a decent account of themselves against a City side now unbeaten on 13, but they remain the only club Albion have yet to take a point off in the Premier League.

What happened...

Albion had to play one of their toughest games of the season without several players including Danny Welbeck, Adam Lallana, Tariq Lamptey, Aaron Connolly, Steven Alzate and Alireza Jahanbakhsh as well as the suspended Yves Bissouma.

By Paul Hazlewood
Percy Tau was an excellent outlet for Albion on the night.

There were four changes to the side that had shared six goals with Wolves, with Percy Tau making his Premier League debut while Alexis Mac Allister, Davy Propper and Bernardo came into the team.

De Bruyne gave early warning that he was in the mood when Ilkay Gundogan's pass found the Belgian in the 14th minute, but Rob Sanchez stood firm and blocked the shot with his legs.

But that was a rare moment of alarm in the first half hour for Albion, who were well organised and quick to nullify City's threats. Ben White was never far from De Bruyne and Dan Burn and Bernardo often doubled up to keep Riyad Mahrez quiet. And when Albion did break through City's press they did get men forward, but the final pass was lacking.

There was a self-inflicted moment of alarm when Adam Webster stretched and cut out De Bruyne's ball forward which Sanchez picked up, but referee Darren England ruled it was a back pass and awarded City an indirect free kick 12 yards out. Alexis Mac Allister did a great job to block De Bruyne's strike.

By Paul Hazlewood
Leandro Trossard combined nicely with Percy Tau and Alexis Mac Allister.

Tau looked lively, linking up with Trossard a couple of times and it was Trossard who had Albion's best chance when he got on the end of Mac Allister's superb cushioned volley and cut inside only to curl his effort well wide of the far post.

De Bruyne was denied again by Sanchez after they broke quickly from Albion's first corner but City had got on top and they broke the deadlock in the 44th minute. Inevitably, De Bruyne was involved when he picked out Foden who drilled a low shot with his weaker right foot inside the near post.

By Paul Hazlewood
Manchester City celebrate what proved to be the winning goal.

Ederson made his first save ten minutes after the break when he got behind Propper's well-struck volley from outside the box, but Albion were lucky not to concede three times in the space of two minutes. Sanchez made a great save when Mahrez beat the offside trap and another moments later to deny Gundogan. The ball broke to Bernardo Silva who lashed his shot from 15 yards against the crossbar.

The game was much more open. Mac Allister wasn't far away with a shot from the D then Bernardo delivered a lovely ball into the box which Propper at full stretch couldn't quite keep on target as he steamed in at the far post. Sanchez made two more good saves, denying Joao Cancelo and De Bruyne as the hosts sought the security of a second goal.

Potter sent on Neal Maupay and Solly March for the final quarter with Albion very much still in it. The visitors began to commit more men forward and dominate possession but frustratingly failed to test Ederson again.

City squandered a golden opportunity in stoppage time when Sanchez brought down De Bruyne after Lewis Dunk's back pass fell fractionally short but Sterling lifted the penalty over the bar.

A frustrating night for Albion, but plenty to please Potter ahead of Saturday's trip to Leeds.

Tau gets his chance

Percy Tau's first Premier League start – a week after he arrived at the club – may have come earlier than he anticipated but Graham Potter was pleased with his contribution as a sub on Sunday at Newport and felt he could make an impact. He became the first South African to play in the competition since Steven Pienaar for Sunderland against Bournemouth in April 2017.

The kids are alright

Albion’s bench included four members of the under-23 squad included including Jensen Weir, a summer signing from Wigan, and fellow midfielder Reda Khedra, who only joined the club in October from Borussia Dortmund and tasted the Premier League environment for the first time as a late substitute. The starting XI contained only three Englishmen. 

The line-up

Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Webster, White, Burn, Propper (March 67), Trossard (Khadra 85), Mac Allister, Bernardo, Tau (Maupay 67).

Unused subs: Walton, Gross, Zeqiri, Sanders, Jenks, Weir.

Booked: Veltman (foul), Webster (foul)