It was well and truly a rude awakening for fourth placed Albion in this ‘top of the table’ televised teatime clash with City.
Right from the outset as if VAR was ever going to go against the actions of Jesus? Gabriel that is, his alleged foul on Robert Sanchez was ruled a fair challenge in the build up to City skipper’s Ikay Gungodan’s 13th minute opener.
Unfortunately foul or no foul the goal was always coming as the defending champions came straight out of the blocks looking to possibly avenge their Amex defeat in the final home game of last season.
Worse was to follow as the Albion were made to look second in every department by the visitors and the second arrived on 28 minutes when a City break saw Jack Grealish unselfishly square the ball to Phil Foden for nothing more of a formality of shooting into an empty net.
Three minutes later Grealish saw his shot rebound saved by Sanchez but Jesus made no mistake as his shot deflected off Foden for his second and City’s third.
There came some respite as finally on 43 minutes, Solly March had Albion’s first meaningful strike but his long range effort was parried by Ederson.
At 3-0 down to arguably the best club side in the country it’s effectively game over but a rejuvenated Albion appeared to come out for the second period.
And on 55 minutes a good move was finished off with a speculative shot from Pascal Gross, but competently dealt with by Ederson.
Trossard went close on the hour, but again Ederson was equal to anything the Albion threw at him.
Finally on 81 minutes the Albion’s endeavour was rewarded via the penalty spot, when Alexis Mac Allister converted the spot kick after fellow sub Enoch Mwepu was brought down by Ederson.
City increased their lead in added time through Mahrez, but an extremely entertaining game albeit one of two halves, make no bones City where a class above Albion for long periods despite the defeat far more positives than negatives.
The Albion will play worse than this, this season and win.
With City having nine shots on goal in the first 45 minutes, and 23 in total, only conceding three was almost a moral victory.
Tariq Lamptey is fast approaching getting back to his best after coming on as a second half sub.
The bottom line is staying in the Top four for any sustained period was Fantasy Football, but a proven striker in the upcoming window is imperative.
And finally it’s an absolute must that a fit in mind and body Yves Bissouma must return to the starting line up sooner rather than later.
Albion: Sanchez, Veltman, Burn (Lamptey 57), Dunk, Cucurella, Moder, Trossard, Lallana, Gross (Mac Allister 71), March, Maupay (Mwepu 57).
Unused subs: Steele, Webster, Connolly, Bissouma, Duffy, Richards.