Substitute Sterling scores with first touch after early goals from Sane and Fernandinho with Rodriguez replying for WBA before Phillips' late strike sets up tense finish
Manchester City 'won and that's the most important thing' as West Brom come up just short
Raheem Sterling scored with his first touch as Manchester City stayed five-points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 3-2 win at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Sterling, who replaced Bernardo Silva in the 61st minute, scored his ninth goal of the season in all competitions as City extended their club record number of wins to 13.
But Sergio Aguero was kept waiting to become their outright all-time top scorer as he remained on the bench watching his teammates re-establish their lead which had been cut to two points after Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 earlier in the day.
West Brom's miserable run continued as they have now won just twice in their last 19 League games and are without a league win since August 19, and the fans had their say leaving dozens of empty seats.
Three goals in the first 15 minutes made it a lively start at The Hawthorns as Leroy Sane's eighth goal of the season was cancelled out by Jay Rodriguez only for Fernandinho to restore City's lead on the quarter-hour mark.
Sterling sealed it but there was just time for substitute Matt Phillips to make it 3-2 in time added on.
Sane struck a left-footed shot of such power and precision it was a wonder it didn't break the net after he fired through the legs of Allan Nyom into the opposite corner when David Silva found him in space on the left.
"Leroy Sane has a special talent and runs in from behind - it's important to do that," Pep Gaurdiola told the BBC's Match Of The Day programme, after seeing his young German winger score for the sixth time in the league this season. "He's still young though and there are many things he can improve upon."
City's lead lasted just three minutes as West Brom conjured a goal that was a triumph of simplicity.
Former City midfielder Gareth Barry chipped the ball over the top which left John Stones outnumbered with Salomon Rondon and Rodriguez for company and the latter lobbed over goalkeeper Ederson for his second Premier League goal of the season.
City were ahead again when Fernandinho's low drive clipped the legs of Ahmed Hegazi before nestling in the bottom corner.
The visitors could have made it 3-1 on 26 minutes but Silva headed over from De Bruyne's deep cross when he perhaps should have done better.
But West Brom should have made it much harder for City with headers either side of the break.
First Rondon could only glance wide from a cross by Grzegorz Krychowiak, who then nodded straight at Ederson.
City brought on Sterling just after the hour mark and he wasted no time putting the game beyond West Brom.
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Guardiola's side moved the ball effortlessly from left to right, from Sane to De Bruyne, to Silva and finally Kyle Walker's low cross was tucked away by the former Liverpool winger from four yards out.
West Brom gambled by throwing an attacker on for a defender in the 68th minute when Phillips replaced Gareth McAuley.
But instead it was City who continued to threaten as De Bruyne sidefooted powerfully wide on the run, before Foster denied Silva.
Phillips gave the scoreline a somewhat flattering look in West Brom's favour when he guided the ball past Ederson after City were caught napping from Barry's long ball.
"We won and that's the most important thing. We didn't panic when it became 1-1 or when it became 3-2 at the end," Guardiola said
"They played five at the back with two strikers which was different. But we started well again and have started scoring earlier."