Heroic West Ham hang on to stun Man City with 2-1 win
West Ham United have proven to be a thorn in the sides of several clubs competing for a top four spot, and that continued here, as the Hammers added Manchester City’s scalp to their list, with a hard-fought 2-1 win away at the Etihad, halting their hosts’ unbeaten league run.
It was a surprisingly poor start by City, who lost much-missed midfield conductor David Silva to injury in the pre-match warm-up, and then fell behind to the Hammers in under eight minutes.
Chelsea-owned Victor Moses will have pleased his parent club, as the Nigeria international amazingly found acres of space in front of the Citizens’ defence and unleashed a rocket to beat Joe Hart and spoil City’s record of five successive league clean sheets.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men almost fashioned an immediate response, as crafty work from Kevin De Bruyne split open the visitors’ rearguard, but Sergio Aguero was uncharacteristically unable to finish on target.
Clearly missing the slickness of Silva, and still seemingly a little sluggish after a midweek Champions League defeat to Juventus, City could not immediately find a way past West Ham’s resilient rearguard, with Winston Reid once again an influential force.
Slaven Bilic’s boys’ sublime start continued, as dangerman Diafra Sakho then made it 2-0 around the 30th minute mark, as the sharpshooter easily slipped his marker to lash home a loose ball, after City struggled to clear a simple set-piece.
The Senegal striker could have helped himself to a second shortly after, if not for an impressive last-ditch challenge from Eliaquim Mangala, who knocked marksman Sakho off his stride.
With all their possession, the Citizens did eventually rally and, though returning custodian Adrian made a superb triple stop from close-range to deny Aguero, new boy Kevin De Bruyne gave his side a lifeline just before half time.
The Belgian playmaker’s first in a Sky Blue shirt was a sweetly struck peach, after insistent Aguero dragged the guests’ defence towards him and laid on a lovely ball for De Bruyne to finish crisply.
As expected, the Sky Blues began the second half strongly, but even a Yaya Toure burst into the box was repelled by a Hammers backline that was pegged back and forced to dig deep.
Bilic’s side were still a familiar threat on the counter, as they had been earlier in the week against Newcastle United, but struggled to keep possession in the face of City’s increased pressure.
Excellent Adrian made an impressive claim to be the Hammers’ outstanding player on the pitch, with vital successive saves from Aguero and Jesus Navas, as the Brazilian goalie found his area continuously peppered.
The Hammers certainly battened down the hatches, as City swarmed on every crucial clearance and, though Adrian missed out to clubmate Reid to be crowned man of the match, the custodian managed to keep the Sky Blues at bay with a flexible stop to deny defender Nicolas Otamendi a full debut goal.
West Ham can now reflect on yet another heroic effort as they head back home to the capital, while Manchester City must await news of Silva’s match fitness and lick their wounds following an underwhelming week, though still sit pretty at the top of the Premier League table.