It’s safe to say that virtually everyone was expecting Manchester City to hammer the Baggies last night, but Slaven’s men kept fighting until the very end, with Ajayi’s deflected shot levelling the score before half-time and stunning Guardiola on the sideline.
Man City started sluggishly and Albion nearly took advantage eight minutes in when the ball found Karlan Grant inside the box, one-on-one with Ederson; but his side-footed effort was too weak to trouble the Brazilian keeper.
It took almost half an hour for City to start picking up the pace. It was clear that they were complacent, viewing the Baggies as an easy three points, but this cost them dearly by the end of the game.
And then the opener came: Raheem Sterling burst towards the byline before cutting it back for Ilkay Gundogan, who blasted it past Johnstone at close range.Embed from Getty Images
But the Baggies didn’t give up hope.
Two minutes after conceding, Conor Gallagher almost equalised with a curled effort from outside of the box, but it narrowly went wide of the post.
Grady Diangana was then fouled and a free-kick was awarded. The ball was swung into the box and cleared away by City’s defence, but only so far as Romaine Sawyers who promptly headed it back into the danger zone.
From here, it was a pinball-esque fiasco, with the ball bouncing back and forth before Semi Ajayi took a swing at it and watched as the ball flicked off Ruben Dias’s shin past Ederson for the equaliser.Embed from Getty Images
It was a scrappy goal but one that Albion were happy to take all day long.
Guardiola’s men were visibly stunned by the goal and went into half-time devoid of confidence.
For much of the second-half, it was a back and fourth encounter, with City having the upper-hand but being unable to break through Albion’s robust backline.
Bilic brought on Charlie Austin for Karlan Grant in the 70th minute to operate as more of a defensive midfielder than the striker he is; it was clearly time to park the bus.
And Albion succeeded.
The full time whistle blew confirming that the Baggies had indeed taken a point at the Etihad – a seemingly impossible task before the game began.
But now rumours are swirling regarding Bilic’s future. It’s understood that even a point against Man City may not be enough for him to keep his job. Things will become clear in the coming days.
Match Ratings: Johnstone (9); Furlong (7), Ajayi (9), O’Shea (8), Gibbs (7); Sawyers (6), Phillips (6), Livermore (6), Gallagher (7), Diangana (7); Grant (5). Subs: Austin (6), Krovinovic (6), Peltier (6).
West Brom: Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, O’Shea, Gibbs; Sawyers, Phillips (Peltier 87′), Livermore (Krovinovic 80′), Gallagher, Diangana; Grant (Austin 70′)
Subs (not used): Button, Ivanovic, Grosicki, Robinson
Booked: Gallagher (40′), Peltier (90′), Gibbs (90+2′)
Newcastle: Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Ake, Mendy (Walker 75′); Rodri, Gundogan; Sterling, De Bruyne, Foden (Aguero 76′); Jesus
Subs (not used): Steffen, Laporte, Silva, Torres, Mahrez
Booked: Cancelo (45+1′), Ake (90+4′)
Referee: Peter Bankes