Manchester City 1-1 West Bromwich Albion: Late Johnstone heroics earns West Brom deserved point
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Sam Johnstone of West Bromwich Albion saves a headed shot from Raheem Sterling of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion at Etihad Stadium on December 15, 2020 in Manchester, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Manchester City lost more ground on the Premier League leaders after a shock 1-1 draw with West Brom on Tuesday night.

Ilkay Gundogan's first-half strike was quickly cancelled out by Ruben Dias' unfortunate own goal, with Tom Johnstone proving the hero for the visitors with a string of second-half saves to earn his side a deserved point.

Story of the Match

Despite being huge underdogs, it was West Brom who had a golden opportunity to open the scoring early on the night.

Conor Gallagher's inside ball found Karlan Grant, who dipped a shoulder and skipped past Nathan Ake before seeing his curled effort saved comfortably by Ederson with the goal gaping.

The early scare seemed to shake Pep's men into gear, as they began to dictate the tempo of the play, with the vast majority of their early play coming down the left-hand side with Phil Foden looking lively in his first Premier League start since mid-October.

Manchester City had registered around 75% of the possession through the opening 25 minutes but, as has been the case on many an occasion this season, they failed to trouble Johnstone at all, with West Brom camped inside their defensive third.

The host's breakthrough came shortly after the half-hour mark and in typical Pep fashion.

It was the returning Gundogan who finished off a sweeping Manchester City attack which began with a wonderful pass from Joao Cancelo which split the Baggies backline and found Raheem Sterling in down the right-hand side.

The Englishman cut the ball back to the perfectly placed German and his first-time effort flew past Johnstone to give the hosts the lead.

Manchester City had struggled to hold on to their leads on a number of occasions so far this season, and that proved to be the case once more as West Brom grabbed an unlikely equaliser just shy of half-time

It came after Manchester City struggled to clear a deep free-kick, with the second ball in finding centre half Semi Ajayi. The Englishman span and struck a low effort goalwards which found the back of the net courtesy of a huge deflection off Dias.

The hosts cut a frustrated figure at half-time, with Joao Cancelo finding his name in the referee's notebook after venting his anger towards the official.

The second half was one-way traffic, but as was the case in the first, Manchester City had nothing to show for it as West Brom set up shop in their own half to defend what they had worked so hard to achieve in the first 45.

In honesty, there was little to report in the second half until the dying embers, with Kevin De Bruyne's free-kick ten minutes from time the closest Manchester City came, drawing a smart save from Johnstone down to his left.

Despite their woeful showing in front of goal, the hosts had two great opportunities to win the game in injury time.

Both came following pinpoint deep crosses from De Bruyne, with Gunodgan denied by the feet of Johnstone from close range, before Raheem Sterling's effort from six yards out was again saved superbly by the legs of the West Brom stopper.

City remain five points adrift of Spurs and Liverpool ahead of their clash tomorrow evening, with West Brom remaining down in 19th but just two points adrift of safety.

What we Learnt

Manchester City's Goal Crisis Continues

Few could've predicted it at the start of the season, Manchester City and their starstudded squad struggling to score goals.

But that has been the case for the Citizens - scoring just 18 goals so far this term - is it time for Plan B for Pep?

What's Happened to Laporte

It looked as though it was John Stones' form that was keeping Aymeric Laporte out of the side, but with Ake preferred to the Frenchman tonight as Stones was given the night off, many are wondering if there is more to the story.

Laporte's absence was cited as the main reason for City's struggles last season, but now he finds himself unable to get a game in the Premier League. Is there more to the story than meets the eye?

West Brom won't go down without a fight

Few gave West Brom a chance at survival this season, and even fewer gave them a hope tonight, but the Baggies continue to prove their doubters wrong.

Yes, they are still in the relegation zone, but the Albion have proved that they can mix it with the big boys on two occasions now (3-3 draw with Chelsea in September).

These are the points that many around them will fail to pick up, points that could prove invaluable come the end of the season.