Edin Dzeko’s first half goal guaranteed Manchester City a top-three finish this season after they beat West Brom at the Etihad Stadium.
City warmed up for the FA Cup final with Wigan on Saturday by edging out the Baggies in a competitive game that saw Roberto Mancini’s men ensure they will be competing in the Champions League group stages next term.
This was a far from vintage performance from the recently dethroned Premier League champions, although with eight alterations to his starting lineup, Mancini certainly had one eye on the trip to Wembley.
Despite having nothing left to play for the Baggies started brighter and Romelu Lukaku threatened three times in the opening five minutes without dirtying Joe Hart’s gloves.
Carlos Tevez and Aleksander Kolarov then went close for the home side, before the Argentinian striker rattled the crossbar with a sweet strike from outside the penalty area.
The opening goal came 10 minutes before the break when Tevez nipped down the right flank and floated a delicious ball into the path of Dzeko, who proceeded to send a controlled volley past Boaz Myhill in the West Brom goal.
City went close to doubling their lead when Jack Rodwell had an effort cleared off the line and James Milner drove against the foot of the post before the break.
West Brom came out refreshed after the interval and Markus Rosenberg was inches away from equalising when his free kick rebounded off the bar, before James Morrison had an effort tipped wide by Hart and Shane Long drilled into the side netting as City held on.
Roberto Mancini post-match… “Edin Dzeko has scored important goals this season. I think he can do better. I think he is one of the best in Europe for me but he can do better than this year. With his goal we are in the Champions League and probably in second position.”
Steve Clarke post-match…” The way the players applied themselves was excellent. We played well and were unlucky not to get something. In the first half we had a spell where we lost our way a little bit, we lost momentum, made a few mistakes and encouraged them into the game.”
Good night for…Edin Dzeko: An impressive showing from the Bosnian in the lone striker role and took his goal with real aplomb. Might have played himself in to a starting role for Saturday’s FA Cup final.
Bad night for…Markus Rosenberg: After a superb showing at weekend against Wigan the Swedish forward retained his place in the Albion side but looked awfully out of his depth at the Etihad Stadium.