Manchester City dealt with questions over their away form with a comprehensive 3-2 win over West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns Wednesday.
Two late goals gave the impression of a WBA fightback, but in reality, there were few moments in the game where City were not in total control, with Sergio Aguero scoring once and Yaya Toure grabbing the other two goals for the visitors.
With four minutes of normal time remaining, a Costel Pantilimon own goal gave West Brom some reward for their improved second-half performance, before Victor Anichebe sneaked another deep into injury time.
For much of the game, the Citizens swept forward at will, with Toure the driving force out of midfield, Samir Nasri, Jesus Navas and Aguero providing the movement and Edin Dzeko playing the role of target man with aplomb.
The dominance of the away team allowed their fullbacks, Aleksandar Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta, to push forward to damaging effect as well.
West Brom, swamped in midfield, could do little to stem the tide. Morgan Amalfitano offered some spark on the rare occasions that the hosts got forward, but City's defense were relatively untroubled.
Dzeko held the ball up in the box as Zabaleta made an overlapping run, and the Argentine's cross found his countryman in Aguero, who slammed the ball into the top of the net for City's opening goal after eight minutes.
More slick passing set up Toure to side-foot home to double the advantage in the first half after receiving an accurate Kolarov cross.
Kolarov was taken down by Claudio Yacob in the second term to win a penalty, and Toure made no mistake from the spot to make it 3-0 and seemingly end the game as a contest.
Matej Vydra swept in from the left then sent a ball across the face of goal, and Kolarov's attempted clearance ended up rebounding off Pantilimon and into the net for a consolation goal.
Anichebe closed the gap even further after turning past Martin Demichelis, but by that stage there were only seconds remaining in the game.
Here are some post-match comments from West Brom manager Steve Clarke, via the club's official Twitter account:
Clarke: It's disappointing to lose at home but we played very good team. We allowed them too much time & space to get in behind us 1st half— WBAFCofficial (@WBAFCofficial) December 4, 2013
Clarke: We gave ourselves a mountain to climb but we kept plugging away. We kept trying to play.— WBAFCofficial (@WBAFCofficial) December 4, 2013
And the winning manager, Manuel Pellegrini, on his team's performance, thanks to BBC Radio Manchester:
Pellegrini disappointed by conceding two late goals,delighted with first half,loved the second "team" goal,Yaya no injury despite coming off— BBC Radio Manchester (@bbcradiomanc) December 4, 2013
West Bromwich Albion
Myhill 5: Not particularly at fault for any of the goals. He surely couldn't have relished collecting the ball out of his net three times, though.
Reid 3: Had very little impact on the game.
McAuley 5: Couldn't have done much to stem the tide, such was City's dominance. Showed some fight at least.
Olsson 3: Like Reid, he couldn't impose himself at all.
Ridgewell 4: Made plenty of running but was unable to deal with his opponents.
Yacob 4: Not his best game in a West Brom shirt. Was sound in his passing but gave away the penalty by clipping Kolarov.
Brunt 5: Probed forward on several occasions but without the precision of City counterparts.
Amalfitano 6: Provided the only sparkle for WBA. Some tricky footwork and a handful of crosses at least gave the City defense something to think about.
Morrison 6: Formed a pocket of resistance with Amalfitano, offering some life in attack, but ultimately did not achieve much.
Berahino 5: Had his moments. Some decent movement but no end product today.
Long 5: Tried a few different approaches, such as moving out to the right, but perhaps would have been better to remain in the middle to give his teammates something to aim at.
Amichebe 7: Had one chance and he buried it. Nice finish.
Gera 6: Added some liveliness in the second half.
Vydra 7: Created WBA's goal with an incisive run.
Pantilimon 6: Not really at fault for the own goal. He'll be disappointed to concede two late efforts, nonetheless.
Zabaleta 7: Did exactly what was required of him, as he always does. Got forward in the first half, stayed back in the second half.
Kompany 7: Strong performance on his return to the lineup.
Demichelis 6: Galloped around a lot and generally did well, but he always looks like he has a mistake in him. Was skinned by Anichebe for West Brom's second.
Kolarov 8: Like Zabaleta on the other side, he did his job to perfection. Set up one goal and won the penalty.
Fernandinho 6: Had a relatively quiet game as WBA offered little threat through the middle.
Yaya Toure 8: Typically dominant performance from the Ivorian giant.
Navas 7: Complemented Aguero and Nasri well today.
Nasri 8: Brilliant movement and passing helped City stamp their authority on the game.
Aguero 8: Unusually, he missed a couple of good chances, but he was lively and threatening all night.
Dzeko 7: Did exactly what you want from a No. 9—held the ball up and brought others into the attack.
Milner 6: Brought in to shore up the midfield; he did a solid job of it.