Carlos Tevez advanced a compelling case for a place in Manchester City’s FA Cup final team with an effervescent display in his side’s 1-0 win at home to West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.
The Argentine was one of eight players drafted into the team by manager Roberto Mancini and he created the game’s only goal in the 35th minute with a cross that was dispatched by Edin Dzeko.
Tevez will now hope to get the nod on Saturday when City tackle Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
The victory took City seven points clear of Chelsea in second place, 10 points below champions Manchester United, while West Brom, who have not won in seven games, remain eighth.
West Brom manager Steve Clarke sent his team out in an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation, but the visitors were nonetheless the first team to settle.
On-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku carried the early menace, shooting narrowly wide from long range and then heading straight at goalkeeper Joe Hart after City failed to clear their lines from a free-kick.
Gradually, though, the hosts began to assert themselves.
Jack Rodwell hooked a shot over the bar after West Brom goalkeeper Boaz Myhill fumbled a free-kick, while Tevez shot just over and James Milner lashed wide from a Samir Nasri cross.
Tevez was at the heart of City’s best play and shortly after rattling the bar with a shot from long range, he teed up Dzeko for the opening goal.
Nasri robbed Youssouf Mulumbu in midfield and after Tevez was released down the right, the Argentine looked up and picked out Dzeko, who steered a difficult side-foot volley past Myhill.
City were rampant, Milner hitting the post shortly before halftime, but West Brom flew back at them early in the second period.
Markus Rosenberg saw a brilliant long-range free-kick come back off the crossbar and from the rebound Hart sprang to his right to parry a header from Billy Jones.
Hart then had to turn a low shot from James Morrison around the post, before City reacted, with Rodwell narrowly failing to convert a cross from Tevez and then testing Myhill in an ensuing scramble.
Thereafter, Myhill thwarted Milner, while Hart saved a bobbling effort from Rosenberg and West Brom substitute Shane Long spurned a good chance to equalize when he shot into the side netting.