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What travel sickness? Manuel Pellegrini’s players appeared consumed by wanderlust at the Hawthorns as they produced a deafening response to Jose Mourinho’s mischievous mind games.

Mourinho’s claim that Manchester City are Chelsea’s biggest title rivals was emphatically underlined as Pellegrini’s team finally discovered the formula to transport their effervescent home performances to an away ground.

In front of Goran Ivanisevic, the former Wimbledon tennis champion and West Bromwich Albion supporter, City wrapped up game, set and match within the opening 25 minutes to secure only their second Premier League win on the road this season. In an excellent first-half performance, this was travel slickness.

Sergio Agüero enhanced his chances of being named the player of the year with another marauding display, collecting his 17th goal of the season, while the return of Vincent Kompany after more than two months provided his defence with the solidity and assuredness they have been lacking.

Costel Pantilimon’s own goal and Victor Anichebe’s finish in the fourth minute of stoppage time were reward for Albion’s commitment but the scoreline arguably flattered Steve Clarke’s players.

Pellegrini had refused to comment when asked about Mourinho’s remarks on Tuesday yet this message could not have been clearer.

“We are not trying to send a message, it is more important to win points. For our team it was very important to win away and we will try and also do that on Saturday against Southampton before we play Arsenal [at home],” he said.

“We played really well and we had a lot more chances to score. I think for the first 45 minutes we played without making one error. It was not as close a match as the score says and all of us were maybe thinking of the next game but in football you are never finished.”

Sensational at home, suspect away, defensive vulnerability has frequently afflicted City when they venture away from the Etihad Stadium this season.

While defeats at Cardiff, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Sunderland have damaged Pellegrini’s hopes of issuing an even more formidable statement their performances have still been enough to get under the skin of Mourinho.

Ahead of this game Mourinho had attempted to inflict more pressure on the Chilean by claiming City have “more responsibilities” to win the title due to their “unique” squad. They certainly took that responsibility seriously here, playing with freedom and menace, underlining why Mourinho clearly views them as Chelsea’s biggest threat.

Ivanisevic, an Albion fan for eight years and watching his first game at the Hawthorns, had only just taken his seat when City took the early advantage. Agüero had already squandered a chance from close range but there was no repeat of his profligacy on nine minutes when he finished off a typically sublime counter-attacking move.

Pablo Zabaleta, advancing into the Albion area, was found by Edin Dzeko and the defender’s low cross was rammed into the top of the net by his fellow Argentine, who was unmarked.

City increased their lead in the 24th minute after another enterprising raid into enemy territory, with Yaya Touré delivering a clinical finish from Aleksandar Kolarov’s centre.

Clarke prowled his technical area in obvious discomfort as his team were constantly picked apart. Shane Long, so dangerous against Aston Villa in their last home game, became increasingly isolated but never stopped trying to force a mistake out of the City defence. He appeared to have a decent claim for a penalty in the 50th minute when he collapsed under a challenge from Kolarov but referee Chris Foy was unmoved.

The third goal, arguably the killer, came 17 minutes from the end when another Kolarov forward charge was halted by Claudio Yacob in the box, with Touré stepping up to convert the spot kick.

“You should have gone Christmas shopping,” crowed the visiting fans in the Smethwick End.

Albion did produce two late snarls of defiance, however, when substitute Matej Vydra’s cross came off Kolarov and Pantilimon and rolled over the line, before Anichebe easily turned Martin Demichelis to drive in a second. But this should never have been so close.

Clarke said: “We gave ourselves a mountain to climb but we kept plugging away. It’s disappointing to lose at home but we played a very good team.” Advantage Pellegrini.

Match details

West Bromwich Albion (4-2-3-1) Myhill; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Yacob, Brunt; Amalfitano (Vydra 76), Morrison (Gera 64), Berahino; Long (Anichebe 65).
Subs L Daniels (g), Lugano, Popov, Sessegnon.
Goals Pantilimon 85 og, Anichebe 90
Booked Olsson.
Manchester City (4-4-2): Pantilimon; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov; Navas (Garcia 77), Toure (Rodwell 88),Fernandinho, Nasri; Aguero (Milner 69), Dzeko.
Subs Hart (g), Lescott, Richards, Negredo.
Goals Aguero 9, Toure 24, 74 pen.
Booked Pantilimon.
Referee C Foy (Lancashire).
Att 22,943.

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