Manchester City moved 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League by outclassing West Brom at Etihad Stadium.

Fernandinho slipped home a finish from Kevin de Bruyne’s surgical through ball to put the hosts ahead during a dominant first-half performance.

There was no let-up after the break and De Bruyne rounded off a slick counter-attack by tapping in the second from Raheem Sterling’s pass.

Sterling then set up Aguero for the third with a cute reverse ball in the last minute of normal time.

West Brom only mustered their first effort on goal in the 88th minute after on-loan striker Daniel Sturridge was brought off the bench for his debut.

The result means the Baggies remain three points adrift at the bottom of the table, after Swansea’s win over Arsenal on Tuesday.

City underlined the gulf in class and league position between the two sides by carving out chance after chance, with De Bruyne and Aguero guilty of misses among 18 efforts on goal.

One possible blemish on the evening for the hosts is the prospect of retrospective action being taken against Fernandinho after the Brazilian escaped any punishment for planting his foot onto the thigh of the prone Grzegorz Krychowiak in the first half.

However, West Brom were extremely fortunate that substitute Matt Phillips was allowed to see the match through to the final whistle after a thigh-high challenge on 18-year-old City substitute Brahim Diaz that only earned a yellow card.

With John Stones unwell and Vincent Kompany rested, defender Aymeric Laporte was brought in for an earlier-than-expected debut.

His club record £57m move from Athletic Bilbao was only confirmed on Tuesday, but the Baggies provided the ideal opportunity for the 24-year-old centre-back to ease himself into Premier League life.

He had plenty of time to step into midfield and, under little pressure, prompt the attack. Of City’s outfield starters, only Bernardo Silva was more accurate with his passing.

Salomon Rondon’s opportunities to test the Frenchman physically were few and far between, but Laporte gave as good as he got when the pair tangled in the second half.

Centre-back is a position that has consumed much of City’s cash and attention in recent years. The signings of Stones, Nicolas Otamendi, Eliaquim Mangala, Matija Nastasic and Stefan Savic have eaten up about £140m of the club’s substantial reserves.

Tougher tests await but Laporte – the most expensive of the lot – did nothing wrong on his debut.




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