IT was another one of those ‘Dias’ for Manchester City – the problem is they are coming round too often for Pep Guardiola’s men right now.
An own goal from record signing Ruben Dias just before half-time denied City in a game they completely dominated.
West Brom earned a point at the Etihad through a Ruben Dias own goal[/caption]
Gundogan celebrated his goal with Sterling after going 1-0 up against West Brom[/caption]
And once again the once free-scoring home side could not find the goals they needed.
This time it was former Manchester United keeper Sam Johnstone who denied them.
The Baggies number one had a busy night here – making outstanding saves from Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling.
But as Christmas approaches, City have well and truly lost their sparkle.
And unless they can find it again quickly find it again they could find their title hopes over before the decorations come down.
The late winner by Wolves earlier in the evening meant City kicked off the game back in tenth place – hardly what they expected with almost a third of the season gone.
And it could have got worse as the struggling Baggies had the first big chance of the game.
Conor Gallagher’s pass bounced off Joao Cancelo into the path of Karlan Grant, whose low shot was pushed away by Ederson.
Gundogan had earlier given Man City the lead at the Etihad[/caption]
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City have gone six games without conceding a goal heading into this – not many have come closer than the £15million former Huddersfield man.
A born again John Stones has been a key part of that and has rightly been praised by Pep Guardiola – but he was rested for this one.
Equally surprising was the decision to go with Nathan Ake ahead of £57m man Aymeric Laporte, who was once again on the bench.
In contrast, the Baggies have the leakiest defence in the top flight – with 25 goals conceded in their 12 games before this one.
Yet in the first quarter they coped quite comfortably with what City had to offer going forward.
A corner from Kevin de Bruyne found the head of Rodri but he could only direct it onto the roof of the net.
Any City fans tuning in hoping for a lift after the dismal Manchester derby on Saturday might have been disappointed by the opening – but their team were having so much of the ball.
And it finally paid dividends on the half hour as Cancelo swapped passes with Sterling who found himself with space on the right.
He pulled it back for Ilkay Gundogan who swept past former Manchester United keeper Sam Johnstone for his first Premier League goal in a year.
Guardiola persists with playing both Gundogan and Rodri – much to the frustration of many supporters who feel it is too defensive.
A Ruben Dias own goal saw West Brom pull level before the break[/caption]
Yet here the German international popped up with a goal just when it looked like it might turn into a frustrating night for the home side.
The Baggies knew they would have to come out more now and they almost grabbed an immediate response as Gallagher curled a 20 yard shot inches wide.
De Bruyne picked out Cancelo with a pin-point corner from the left but the full-back could not direct his volley on target.
But it was the visitors who grabbed a surprise equaliser just before half-time as City failed to clear their lines from a free-kick and it was headed into the danger zone by Romaine Sawyers.
It fell for defender Semi Ayaji who turned on the edge of the box and got his shot away but it looked to be heading wide.
It hit the back-tracking Ruben Dias and wrong-footed Ederson for a scruffy but much-needed equaliser for the home side.
The Portuguese centre-back has hardly put a foot wrong since he joined before the transfer deadline in October – and could count himself slightly unlucky there.
It was November 21 last time City conceded a goal – more than 600 minutes of football have passed since – but it left them with it all to do again.
A header from Gabriel Jesus – who has not scored in his last six games – planted a header just over the angle from a Gundogan corner.
West Brom stole a point at the Etihad in a major blow to Guardiola and Co[/caption]
Then the Brazilian forward nodded down for Sterling, whose volley was blocked at his near post by Johnstone.
There has been speculation over the future of Baggies boss Slaven Bilic in recent weeks but his team were giving him everything here.
City were almost camped in the opposition half but nothing was falling for them as Phil Foden tried an overhead kick which went wide.
De Bruyne got played through on the right but Johnstone once again got down to save at his near post.
With the minutes ticking by, Guardiola threw on Sergio Aguero to try to make the breakthrough.
The Argentine climbed off the bench to score against Marseilles last week when it didnt’ really matter – they really needed one now though.
He fired one effort wide De Bruyne’s low free-kick that was pushed away by Johnstone.
He teed up Gundogan whose header looked certain to go in until Johnstone pushed out a left leg to save.
And the keeper repeated the trick when he got down to save Sterling’s header deep into stoppage time.