Football: Pellegrini eager to keep Aguero purring

WEST BROMWICH, United Kingdom - Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini said Sergio Aguero had been withdrawn with Saturday's trip to Southampton in mind after he opened the scoring in a 3-2 win at West Bromwich Albion.

Aguero now has 17 goals for the campaign in all competitions after his ninth-minute strike at The Hawthorns on Wednesday.

"It's an important amount, of course," said Pellegrini.

"I think that more important is for the team to win. That's why I changed him today (Wednesday) because we have to play another game, in less than 72 hours, against another strong team in Southampton. But Sergio is playing very, very well and he will continue scoring.

"We played really well. In other games we've played as well as we played today, but for some reason we didn't score the goals as we did today. I think we also had a lot more chances to score. I think we had 45 minutes without one error.

"We were not trying to send a message; we were trying to add points. I think it's more important, all the other teams have important games. For our team it was very important to try and win away and we will try and do that also on Saturday before we play Arsenal at home."

City were 3-0 up as Yaya Toure added two more either side of half-time, including a penalty, but they conceded twice in the closing stages courtesy of a Costel Pantilimon own goal and Victor Anichebe's first goal for West Brom.

"The score didn't tell the story," said Pellegrini. "It was not as close a match as the score says. But all of us were maybe thinking of the next game before we had finished this one and in football you are never finished.

"They scored two goals in the last four minutes and that's why it's 3-2.

But I think we had more advantage in the whole game.

"The game-plan from the beginning was to try and score, but after that we didn't plan to be more defensive. But the game was maybe not as easy as we think and maybe that's why we were so relaxed in the last minutes.

"But we tried to play exactly the same way in the first half and the second half."

Another bonus for City was the return of captain Vincent Kompany after two months out with a thigh injury.

"It was very important, because he is a very important player for us," added Pellegrini.

"He is our captain and he played with no problems during the 90 minutes." West Brom head coach Steve Clarke admitted his side were well beaten, despite the narrow margin of defeat.

"The first thing to admit is they're a really good team," he said.

"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.

"It makes it difficult when you're playing against a good team. You can risk a little to try and get back in 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 in the game in the second half. Even at times in the first half we had some moments, some opportunities when we could have created something.

"It was a game which 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 was a bad goal to concede. That more or less killed it."