Sergio Aguero grabs Man City point in West Ham wrangle
Holly Thackeray | January 23, 2016
West Ham United 2-2 Manchester City
- Valencia gave Hammers lead in first minute
- Jenkinson conceded penalty and Aguero equalised with spot-kick
- Byram came on for Upton Park and Premier League debut
- Hammers hitman Valencia completed his brace in 55th minute
- Aguero once again levelled late on
Aguero inspires City to a point
Premier League title hopefuls Manchester City (odds-on with Coral at 4/9 to next beat Sunderland) came back twice to pinch a crucial point agaisnt this term’s bogey team West Ham United, with Sergio Aguero firing either side of strikes from equally impressive Enner Valencia.
Man City will now wait with bated breath to see if rivals Arsenal can increase their Premier League lead against Chelsea on Sunday evening, while the Irons will take heart from another heroic big game performance.
Valencia fires in first minute
It looked as though the Hammers hoodoo against big teams would continue, in what proved an electric and exciting opening 10 minutes at Upton Park.
West Ham hit the first blow, as midfield engine Cheikhou Kouyate skipped unchallenged past Yaya Toure before surging forward and finding frontman Enner Valencia unmarked in the box, and the forward duly fired in his first home goal of the season past Joe Hart.
West Ham and Manchester City traded early goals. The Hammers needed less than a minute to score. https://t.co/1S0NiUft3d
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) January 23, 2016
Though, signs soon suggested this superb start and lead would not last for long, as City hardly looked shell-shocked, with David Silva popping up in pockets of space and dinking a delightful ball to Jesus Navas, but his fellow Spaniard struck on his weaker foot.
Aguero equaliser wrongfoots Adrian
An equaliser certainly looked in the offing, however, as Aguero’s inventive chip almost lobbed Adrian, unluckily rebounding off the inside of the post.
The Argentina international made no mistake moments later, though, as on-loan right back Carl Jenkinson, under pressure for his starting berth after the recent signing of Byram, knocked the striker off balance in the penalty area.
Aguero stepped up to take part in a psychological game of chess with the West Ham stopper, delaying his spot-kick to send Adrian the wrong way and make it 1-1 in the 9th minute by slotting low and to the left. Penalty culprit Jenkinson then pulled up with an apparent strain, meaning a rather rushed claret and blue bow for former Leeds United man Byram, who was thrown into the thick of the action by Croatian coach Slaven Bilic.
Celebrity fans thrilled by Hart heroics
It was then end-to-end stuff, as excellent and energetic Kouyate, sprinting away, was taken out by Toure, though it was judged a legal challenge, allowing Kevin De Bruyne to carry on and slide a cross to Aguero, who uncharacteristically miscued.
Play had to be stopped for Kouyate, who required treatment, meaning viewers were treated themselves to shots of famous fans in hardcore Hammer Russell Brand and City supporter Noel Gallagher sharing laughs in the crowd.
Russell Brand y Noel Gallagher se lo están pasando en grande en el palco pic.twitter.com/2qeiBiDVTn
— La media inglesa (@LaMediaInglesa) January 23, 2016
Majestic playmaker Dimitri Payet was at his influential best, precisely picking out exuberant Michael Antonio, who threatened to zoom past defender Martin Demichelis and was hauled down blatantly for his efforts. The resulting free-kick, constantly dipping and curling from Payet, was sensationally tipped wide with one hand by Hart at full-stretch and perhaps even unsighted until late.
Joe Hart is special. https://t.co/ATD3YRPO3g
— ManCityPhotos (@ManCityPhotos) January 23, 2016
Brand was certainly out of his seat for the save:
— JJ Devaney (@JJDevaney) January 23, 2016
An ankle nip by Navas gave Payet another set-piece shot, though it went out for a corner, which Payet tried to turn in with an ambitious but fruitless overhead kick.
England number one Hart was the called to action yet again, crucially intercepting a looping Aaron Cresswell cross to ensure City when in to the break evenly.
City slip up for Valencia second
Defensive shield Fabian Delph gave the Citizens hope, as his pinged rocket rebounded of the post, but it was not to last long.
Deadly at the double, Valencia completed his brace early in the second-half thanks to Nicolas Otamendi, who allowed the Hammers hitman to hold him off far too easily after Antonio’s throw bounced through the box unimpeded and straight to the striker’s feet.
Valencia gobbled up his second chance of the game to send the Hammer soaring into a lead again. Chelsea-owned winger Victor Moses came on as a substitute for Antonio and almost immediately made an impact with a long range punt, as the Sky Blues then ramped up the pressure to try to salvage a point.
Aguero City saviour
It wasn’t quite a last-gasp goal, but Aguero left it late to bag his own brace and City a point by once again finding the equaliser to break Hammers hearts.
Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho proved a masterstroke as Manuel Pellegrini reshuffled his pack, as the Nigerian young-gun drove forward from midfield and pieced together a smart exchange with Aguero that sent the Irons rearguard into a frenzy. The Argentine then dispatched clinically, his seventh in nine career outings against West Ham, around the 81st minute mark to inspire a rushed rally.
Though, it was net threat Nikica Jelavic who had the final best chance to turn the game, but headed wildly not long after coming off the bench, with Aguero shooting straight at Adrian afterwards and Kouyate then striking the bar, and meaning these swashbuckling sides would have to be content with splitting the spoils.