Premier League: Manchester City too strong for West Ham
Last Updated: April 27, 2013 6:16pm
Manchester City returned to winning ways with a 2-1 triumph over West Ham United in their first match since being deposed as Premier League champions.
Sergio Aguero broke the deadlock for City in the first half after some great build-up play, but the Hammers battled hard to stay in the game and had their opportunities to equalise.
Best of the match
- Man of the match: Vincent Kompany. The Man City skipper marshalled their defence splendidly throughout, especially given the threat of Andy Carroll.
- Goal of the game: Sergio Aguero. The build-up was splendid as City netted their first goal, with Aguero's neat finish capping off a wonderful move.
- Attempt of the match: David Silva's first-half drive incredibly avoided a host of bodies as it narrowly drifted wide.
- Save of the match: Jussi Jaaskelainen's denial of Pablo Zabaleta's attempt from close-range was exceptional.
- Moment of the match: Yaya Toure's goal all but wrapped up the points for City, and what a stunning strike it was.
- Talking point: City looked comfortable for long periods, and should their bolster their defence during the summer, performances like this should ensure the Premier League title race is much closer next season.
However, Yaya Toure's tremendous strike with seven minutes remaining put the result beyond doubt and cemented City's standing in second place, with Joe Hart's stoppage-time fumble from Andy Carroll coming too late to give West Ham a chance.
Having seen Manchester United clinch the title with a win over Aston Villa on Monday, Roberto Mancini's men were determined to respond in style and welcomed David Silva back from injury after he missed the 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.
Silva fired a shot narrowly wide in the early stages as City immediately settled into a fluent rhythm, while Aguero scuffed an effort against the post after the ball had deflected fortunately into his path.
As supporters of both clubs applauded after 23 minutes for Marc-Vivien Foe, who died ten years ago, City goalkeeper Hart was tested for the first time by a powerful Mohamed Diame volley through a crowded penalty area.
But it was City who opened the scoring on 28 minutes following a sumptuous passing move, with Samir Nasri playing an intricate one-two with Silva before cutting the ball back for Aguero to sweep in a finish from close range.
It was nearly 2-0 moments later as Jussi Jaaskelainen pulled off a superb double save, first parrying a long-range Nasri drive and then getting up quickly to deny Pablo Zabaleta on the rebound.
City stayed in control for the remainder of the first half but West Ham came out strongly after the interval and Zabaleta did well to clear a threatening cross from Matt Jarvis towards the back post.
The Hammers also had appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Howard Webb as a Jarvis cross struck Zabaleta on the arm, before City regained the initiative.
Carlos Tevez had an effort brilliantly blocked by Joey O'Brien before Nasri squandered a glorious opportunity to double City's lead when he failed to get a proper connection on his shot from close range at the back post.
Nerves started to creep in at the back for City as the clock ticked down and James Collins fired narrowly wide, before the tension was released by a ferocious strike by Toure from the edge of the area in the 83rd minute that flew into the top corner.
City had chances to further extend their advantage and Hart also had to make a save from Carroll's header in a frantic finale, before the England goalkeeper embarrassingly failed to keep out a strike from the same player and allowed the ball to squirm through his legs just before the final whistle.
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was satisfied with his side's performance but felt they could have been more ruthless and won even more convincingly.
He said: "It was important to win. I am happy for this victory, but we could have scored four, five or six goals.
"We scored a fantastic first goal, but sometimes it is enough to put your foot through the ball. Sometimes we want to be too beautiful."
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce took the positives from his team's second-half response but, like Mancini, was left to rue a series of missed opportunities.
"We had to improve our play in possession and we persisted to do that throughout the whole game but, as our problem has been all season, for the chances created there are not enough goals scored," he said.
"Our second-half performance was pleasing because they are a top-quality team who have spent millions of pounds and we managed to get to their level at times in the second half and cause them a few problems."
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