Ilkay Gundogan inspires Man City’s rout of West Brom as visitors go top of Premier League

Ilkay Gundogan celebrates with Phil Foden

There was an early hint of classic Big Sam, a long throw that wreaked havoc, a penalty appeal against Rodri, a shot from Semi Ajayi, the centre-back who is his main goal threat, that Ederson saved.

Thereafter, it was one-sided. Guardiola’s sides are sometimes accused of trying to walk the ball in, but this was a demonstration of mid- and long-range shooting. It almost yielded another goal, Rodri hitting the bar with a dipping effort. Guardiola applauded the tap-in, though, with Raheem Sterling supplying the finish to Mahrez’s volleyed cross to complete a wonderful move.

Even when Phil Foden had a shot touched onto the post by Sam Johnstone, it was from the edge of the box. City soon found their range. Athletic then, Johnstone was motionless when Gundogan picked out the bottom corner of his net.

The goalkeeper did not move for City’s second, either; this time it was more contentious. Sian Massey-Ellis, in a rare error, had flagged Silva offside before Joao Cancelo flighted in a lovely shot from 20 yards. Except, as replays proved, Silva was narrowly onside. A VAR review later, the right-back could celebrate his first Premier League goal. Albion, who had switched off after seeing the flag, could feel aggrieved.

But they retain a self-destructive streak. Romaine Sawyers allowed himself to be dispossessed by Gundogan for the third, the German cutting inside Dara O’Shea far too easily before placing a shot into the bottom corner. Then Mahrez whipped a shot past Johnstone on the stroke of half-time.

At 4-0 down, Allardyce brought on another centre-back. It was a damage-limitation exercise. Sterling nevertheless added a fifth. Like Marcelo Bielsa, Guardiola recorded a 5-0 away win over Allardyce. And when he calls Bielsa a genius, the sentiments may be rather more genuine.

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