Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League in emphatic style as victory at West Brom ended Pep Guardiola’s worst run in management.
City and boss Guardiola were without a win in six matches in all competitions, but Sergio Aguero flashed in Ilkay Gundogan’s through ball to give them the lead.
The Baggies were flat and Aguero struck again, punishing hesitant defending with a powerful, top-corner finish.
West Brom improved hugely after the break but failed to take their chances before Gundogan twice slotted home – first from Aguero’s chip and then after being found by Kevin de Bruyne.
The win means City leapfrog Arsenal, who won 4-1 at Sunderland earlier in the day, into first place in the table with 10 matches played.
Tony Pulis’ side struck the post through Gareth McAuley late on and should have got one back at 2-0 through Salomon Rondon, but they slip to 15th and are now without a win in their past five games.
Aguero’s last goals for City came in the 3-1 league victory at Swansea on 24 September, which was also City’s most recent win before today. Who better, then, to set the tone at the Hawthorns?
The Argentina striker’s first was rifled in brilliantly after his clever run was matched by Gundogan’s quality pass into the space between West Brom’s two centre-backs.
His second was spectacular, but equally simple. McAuley and Jonas Olsson both should have cleared a loose ball on the edge of the box but hesitated, allowing the 28-year-old to set himself up and smash home.
That was his seventh league goal of the season – the joint best return with Chelsea’s Diego Costa – and ends a spell of six matches without a goal.
West Brom’s players were obviously deflated by Aguero’s two goals in nine minutes, so Pulis deserves credit for managing to galvanise his side into producing a spirited second-half display.
They might have got themselves back in it when Rondon miscued his finish when meeting James McClean’s excellent cross, and Claudio Bravo almost gifted the Venezuela striker a goal when he rashly came to clear and left his goal exposed, but Rondon’s header bounced just wide.
But City managed to ride out the pressure and always looked dangerous on the break, with Aguero hugely influential in driving forward on the counter-attack.
He was in search of the hat-trick, but it was Gundogan who expertly slid the ball past Ben Foster to end the Baggies’ revival – meeting Aguero’s fantastic dinked pass through the back line.
The 26-year-old Germany midfielder was excellent throughout, and his first-time finish for City’s fourth capped his best performance since joining from Borussia Dortmund this summer.