West Brom 0 Man City 3: Opening salvoes do not come any more impressive.
After four increasingly unimpressive performances from the pretenders to the Premier League crown it took until the final game of the opening weekend for one of the contenders to lay down a marker.
Dominant, brutal and ruthlessly efficient, Manchester City were simply superb at the Hawthorns.
With David Silva imperious and Yaya Toure providing the rapier thrust with two early goals this was almost the perfect night for City manager Manuel Pellegrini.
It would have been so if it had been crowned by a debut goal from British record signing Raheem Sterling, but no matter.
After the relative travails of Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and — in particular — Arsenal, the Chilean will have known this was a performance to send shudders through the rest of the division.
Now they face Chelsea on Sunday in the first genuine heavyweight meeting of the division and it is one skipper Vincent Kompany — who scored the third — is ready for.
“We have something to prove,” he said. “Last season was below what we are used to.”
We shall find out more against Chelsea, by which point Kevin De Bruyne may be in the side too, but this performance was one to saviour.
It must be said they were up against surprisingly poor opposition, with West Brom manager Tony Pulis going through visible agonies on the touchline at his side’s ineptitude.
The hosts allowed City time and space and were duly punished, but this was a message from the likes of Toure, 32 now, that they should not be forgotten about.
Silva, though, was the star.
No player has provided more than his 40 assists since he arrived in the Premier League four years ago and he demonstrated that a summer of rest has done him good.
Sterling missed two chances — one gilt-edged — but seemed to be fitting in rather nicely after his €69.35m move from Liverpool, although he will seemingly have to get used to being booed by supporters of all clubs after the manner of his Anfield exit.
And perhaps there is something in starting your campaign on a Monday night; after all, each of the last five champions played their opening game on the final evening of the first weekend.
We will have to wait some nine months to discover if history will repeat itself, but this was a hugely encouraging opening display from City and their €324.88m starting line-up.
They were quickly into their stride, and when the opening goal arrived after only nine minutes it already felt overdue.
West Brom had already resorted to hacking the ball aimlessly down field to ease the pressure, but there was no respite when a cross came through to Jesus Navas at the far post and the Spaniard cut the ball back to Toure.
The Ivorian’s shot was low and true but he still required a huge dose of fortune as the ball flicked off Silva and squirmed between Craig Dawson’s legs before trickling apologetically over the line for his fourth goal in three appearances at the Hawthorns.
Soon it was five in three, and whereas the first goal was fortunate this was sheer class as Toure exchanged passes with Wilfriend Bony before scoring from 20 yards.
It was City and Toure at their very best, with perhaps the most impressive thing about it being that everyone in the entire ground could see what was about to happen but they were powerless to stop it.
It should have been three, only for Sterling to fluff his lines when clean through.
There was a huge amount of the goal to aim at but the former Liverpool man shot far too close to Boaz Myhill. It was simply light relief as far as West Brom were concerned.
Pulis made a change at the break as James McClean was hauled off — and it really could have been anyone — but it made scant difference as within 80 seconds Sterling was in again after yet another delicious Silva through-ball.
Myhill again denied him, albeit from a tight angle.
Rickie Lambert came close from a free-kick and Berahino mis-kicked from close in as West Brom at least attempted to get back into the game but they were still unable to get close to Silva.
The Spaniard was a magician, keeping the ball in tight pockets and turning in spaces where it simply didn’t seem possible to do so.
A succession of players were reduced to hacking at him but from one jinking run he won a corner that he delivered for Kompany to head imperiously home.
The captain scaled the advertising hoarding to salute the travelling fans, and it felt like a message had been sent to the rest of the league. City are genuine contenders for Chelsea’s crown.
Myhill 7, Chester 5, Lescott 6, Dawson 5, Fletcher 5, Morrison 5, Gardner 5, Brunt 5, McClean 5 (Yacob, 45; 6), Berahino 7 (McManaman, 80; 6), Lambert 7 (Anichebe, 74; 6).
Hart 8, Sagna 7, Kompany 8, Mangala 7, Kolarov 8, Fernandinho 7, Toure 9 (Demichelis, 80; 6), Silva 10, Navas 8, Sterling 7 (Nasri, 74; 6), Bony 8 (Aguero, 63; 6).
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