Manchester City eased to a 3-0 home victory over 10-man West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Saturday after the visitors had the wrong player sent off in the second minute by referee Neil Swarbrick.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City eased to a 3-0 home victory over 10-man West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Saturday after the visitors had the wrong player sent off in the second minute by referee Neil Swarbrick.
Swarbrick mistakenly dismissed defender Gareth McAuley for bringing down Wilfried Bony as he ran through on goal, when it was teammate Craig Dawson who committed the foul.
"How he gets the lad wrong is just absolutely amazing to me," West Brom manager Tony Pulis said. "Let's be fair, it was going to be tough here today ... but obviously it's a game that was decided in the first couple of minutes."
The extra man allowed City to dominate proceedings but the host did not break through until the 27th, when Bony controlled a deflected effort from Vincent Kompany before beating Boaz Myhill.
Fernando doubled City's lead from close range in the 40th and David Silva turned in Stevan Jovetic's low strike on 77 as City moved three points behind Premier League leader Chelsea, which plays Hull on Sunday.
"There was nothing to win today for us, we just had to do a good job and we didn't fail," City captain Kompany said. "I think we've won nine or 10 on the spin already this season, of course we can do it but that gives us no guarantees that we will win the title."
Manuel Pellegrini handed Bony his first start for City since his January transfer from Swansea and the striker immediately made an impression, intercepting a pass and running at goal before being bundled over by Dawson, the last remaining defender, outside the West Brom penalty area.
Swarbrick blew for a free kick before producing the red card but it was McAuley who left the pitch in a case of mistaken identity.
Swarbrick's error is the third major blunder by a referee in the Premier League within a year.
Last month, Roger East incorrectly dismissed Wes Brown instead of his Sunderland teammate John O'Shea for bringing down Radamel Falcao of Manchester United in the penalty area.
In March 2014, Andre Marriner sent off Kieran Gibbs of Arsenal for handling on the goal line against Chelsea, when it was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who committed the foul.
West Brom frustrated City with 10 men, initially reducing Pellegrini's side to shots from long range. Silva led City's charge, bringing a brilliant save from Myhill in the 23rd with a fierce strike from 20 yards.
But four minutes later, Myhill was helpless as Bony clinically ended West Brom's resistance.
The striker reacted quickest to Kompany's deflected effort and his delicate first touch took him through one-on-one with Myhill, before calmly placing the ball into the top corner.
The goal galvanized City, which nearly doubled its advantage in the 31st through Jesus Navas but Myhill tipped his curling shot over the bar.
Fernando eventually struck five minutes before halftime when West Brom failed to deal with a corner. Myhill fumbled after Jonas Olsson could not clear and Fernando pounced from close range.
City upped the urgency in the second half, with Myhill twice denying Sergio Aguero and also parrying a low drive from Silva.
Aguero struck the post with a neat left footed strike on 57, with Bony rattling the rebound against the crossbar as City poured forward looking to add to its lead.
West Brom spurned its only chance to score when Saido Berahino guided his header against the crossbar from close range on 72.
But City continued its attacking forays and Silva finally got his name on the scoresheet on 77, poking in Jovetic's low strike that appeared to be going wide.