Boss admits City deserved to win and praises troops for battling until end
STEVE Clarke admitted his men did not deserve anything from tonight’s 3-2 defeat by title challengers Manchester City – but felt Albion’s late two-goal salvo made the scoreline fairer.
The visitors raced into a two-goal lead inside 24 minutes thanks to Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure strikes.
But the Baggies stayed in the game until Toure doubled his tally on the night from the penalty spot to make it 3-0 in the 74th minute.
Albion refused to throw in the towel though and were rewarded for their efforts throughout the Hawthorns encounter courtesy of Costel Pantilimon’s own goal in the 85th minute and Victor Anichebe’s first goal for the club four minutes into stoppage time.
“City are a really, really good team,” said Clarke.
“We wanted to stay in the game as long as possible but they managed to get themselves away with the two goals in the first half and it makes it difficult against a good team.
“You can risk a little to try and get back into the game.
“But if you risk too much you end up getting serious damage to your goal difference.
“We tried our best to get back into the game in the second half.
“I think even at times in the first half we had opportunities where we could have created something but didn’t quite.
“And it was a game where it had to go 2-1 at any stage in the second half to give us more of a fighting chance.
“The third goal from the penalty is a bad goal to concede.
“That more or less killed it.
“But credit to our players because we kept going and we got our reward at the end with two late goals which, in my opinion, put a fairer reflection on the balance of play.”
The Albion chief handed the plaudits to Manuel Pellegrini’s men, who made it 12 goals in their last three games as their world-class stars shone again.
“I think at times in the first half City were very, very good,” Clarke added.
“I don’t think they were consistently good.
“But they did what they had to do to get two goals in front and the fact that both goals are similar – but one’s off the left and one’s off the right – tells you they have got good players all over the pitch.
“And if you get that quality of ball into the box, and you have strikers and attacking midfield players of the quality they’ve got, they will score the goals.
“So they did create enough to get themselves into a good position and then they managed the game from there.
“At my pre-match press conference I eluded to the fact they have some world-class players and you just mentioned one in Sergio Aguero.
“Sometimes that can be the difference.”
And Clarke admitted he had no qualms about the penalty referee Chris Foy gave against his men for Claudio Yacob’s foul on Aleksandar Kolarov or the two Baggies spot-kick claims he turned down for challenges on Shane Long.
He insisted: “I thought their penalty was a penalty and both tackles on Shane, if they had been given, would have been very soft.”