ALBION'S return to The Hawthorns ran into a top pedigree performance from Manchester City who claimed a comfortable 3-0 victory.
Goals from David Silva, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany went unanswered by a Baggies side who could not be faulted for effort but found City too hot to handle.
It took steam out of an exciting day for the fans who gave a great reception to record signing Salomon Rondon and his fellow newcomer Serge Gnabry when they were introduced before kick off.
Head Coach Tony Pulis also gave debuts to Rickie Lambert, James McClean and James Chester but City were in no mood to share the spotlight.
Albion endured a torrid opening which saw City dominate from the off and open the scoring with a 9th minute goal which was awarded to Toure though only after touches off David Silva and Craig Dawson.
A brilliant Toure goal on 21 minutes left the Baggies with a mountain to climb but they improved before the break after a top save from Boaz Myhill denied Raheem Sterling in a one-on-one.
The Baggies broke away and had the ball in the net at the other end seconds later – but Saido Berahino’s clipped finish was denied by an offside flag.
Albion introduced Claudio Yacob for McClean at the interval and picked up the tempo to put City under pressure for the first time in the game.
Lambert smacked a terrific free-kick inches over and Berahino was only denied by the best of Joe Hart when played through by James Morrison.
There was a deserving ovation for Lambert, who had shown some encouraging form on a difficult night for the team, when he was replaced late on by Victor Anichebe and to their credit, Albion never threw in the towel.
They produced one super move, featuring Chris Brunt and Berahino, which ended with Morrison unfortunately heading straight at Hart.
Albion: Myhill; Chester, Dawson, Lescott, Brunt; Gardner, Fletcher, Morrison, McCLean (Yacob 46’) Lambert (Anichebe 74), Berahino (McManaman 80’). Subs: Rose, Olsson, Ideye, Sessegnon.
Bookings: Fletcher (39’, foul); Gardner (57’, foul); Chester (foul 58’); Yacob (foul 62’);
City: Hart, Sagna, Kompany (C), Mangala, Kolarov, Toure (Demichelis 80’), Fernandinho, Navas, Silva, Sterling (Nasri 74’), Bony (Aguero 63’). Subs: Caballero, Zabaleta, Denayer, Iheanacho.
Goals: Silva 9’, Toure 21’, Kompany 59’.
Bookings: Sterling (50, foul).
Referee: Mike Dean (The Wirral).
Albion Man of the Match: Saido Berahino