Manchester City kept the pressure on Premier League leader Chelsea by easing to a 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion in snowy conditions on Friday, scoring all of its goals in the first 34 minutes.
Fernando gave City the lead in the eighth minute by pouncing on a goalkeeper error from Ben Foster, and Yaya Toure doubled the visitors’ advantage from the penalty spot after David Silva was fouled by former City defender Joleon Lescott.
Despite again playing without a striker, City scored three times for the second straight game when Silva found the net with a precise strike after a cut-back from Jesus Navas.
Brown Ideye scored from close range in a goalmouth scramble to deny a fifth straight clean sheet for City, which remained three points behind Chelsea.
Snow made conditions difficult in the second half and West Brom earned reward for showing some late spirit as it scrambled an 87th-minute consolation from a corner, Ideye getting the final touch.
The scrappy end took the gloss off an otherwise impressive display by City, which raced out of the blocks and led after just eight minutes. The victory was its ninth in succession in all competitions _ equaling a club record _ and was the perfect response to Chelsea’s defeat of West Ham earlier in the day.
It was also all the more impressive coming without forwards Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic and captain Vincent Kompany.
Jovetic did make the bench after overcoming a hamstring injury but was not needed as makeshift centre-forward James Milner and the impressive Silva, operating behind him, led the attack.
City stretched the hosts early as Silva and Navas burst forward. Bacary Sagna delivered a dangerous cross but West Brom managed to scramble clear from the feet of Silva and Milner.
The respite did not last long as City attacked again with Navas finding space in the area. His deflected cross should have been claimed by Ben Foster but the goalkeeper fumbled and Fernando acrobatically hooked in from close range.
The damage soon got worse for West Brom as Silva skipped into the area and was adjudged to have been fouled by Lescott.
Toure stepped up to rifle home the penalty with just 13 minutes gone and City began to look rampant, with Navas darting through and shooting at Foster soon after.
West Brom showed some spirit as the recalled Saido Berahino drove across goal but City went close again as Silva fired over after a good move.
City went 3-0 up as Fernando seized possession and drove forward to release the ever-threatening Navas. Navas almost casually picked out Silva on the edge of the area and he finished with a superb first-time shot just into the far bottom corner.
That finally seemed to spark West Brom into life as Craig Gardner tested England goalkeeper Joe Hart and Berahino again shot wide.
As the snow began to thicken and settle, City switched its focus to seeing out the game.
Silva, perhaps also as a precaution after an earlier knock, was replaced just after the hour by defender Aleksandar Kolarov.
West Brom went close to replying as Lescott headed over and Stephane Sessegnon shot across goal.
The hosts finally got on the scoresheet as Hart missed a corner and the ball rebounded in off the back of Ideye’s head.