Manchester City 1-0 West Ham
A second-half penalty, coolly converted by Sergio Aguero, was enough for Manchester City to beat West Ham and keep the heat on Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.
It was a frustrating night for the Sky Blues until Aguero’s penalty, and while it was a harsh award, West Ham did well to keep the score down to one as City dominated from virtually the first whistle to the last.
Pep Guardiola apologised for the way he succeeded Manuel Pellegrini as City boss back in 2016, and the Hammers coach received a warm reception on his return.
The Sky Blues, just as they are now, were chasing a historic quadruple under Pellegrini, but the speculation surrounding Pep’s arrival seemed to derail them. And this was the Hammers boss’ first visit to the Etihad since. And his team came quite close to derailing Guardiola’s trophy charge.
Highlights of the game
It was one-way traffic from the first minute as Manchester City surged forward, and Kevin De Bruyne hit a searing drive from 25 yards which whistled just past Lukasz Fabianski’s post. And the Hammers keeper’s upright was rattled on five minutes when De Bruyne pulled the ball back for David Silva who crashed his shot against the post.
As City swarmed all over the Hammers, De Bruyne was involved again. He cut the ball back for Sergio Aguero, but his backheel was wide. The Hammers overcame relegation-threatened Fulham last week, thanks to a controversial handled goal by Javier Hernandez, but it took them 25 minutes to get into City’s penalty area when Vincent Kompany beat Andy Carroll to a cross from Michail Antonio.
The Etihad crowd became a little subdued as their side failed to turn possession into goals, and tonight’s Premier League 2019 updates came through at half-time with the news that Liverpool had gone 2-0 up against Watford.
The Sky Blues began the second half as they did the first, but it was West Ham who came close to breaking the deadlock just after the break. Manuel Lanzini fired a low ball across the penalty area, and Carroll slid in at the far post but shot straight at Ederson.
Guardiola had seen enough and made a change, bringing Bernardo Silva on, and he had an immediate impact. He ran at the heart of the West Ham defence and felt a touch from Felipe Anderson’s outstretched leg which was enough to send him sprawling. Sergio Aguero stepped up and slotted the penalty home to give City a rather lucky lead. It was a harsh penalty, to say the least, but the Sky Blues were happy to take anything after an hour without a goal.
The game was almost out of sight a couple of minutes later, though, but Ryan Fredericks made a heroic goal-line clearance from David Silva and then Aguero. City began to look a little leggy, but De Bruyne continued to dominate the game and brought another save from Fabianski late in the game.
Few Manchester City vs West Ham predictions suggested this game would be goalless at the break, and Pellegrini must have been as delighted as Guardiola was frustrated. The Sky Blues had 78 per cent possession and 11 shots to nil. But only one shot was on target.
The final shot count in this 100th encounter between these two teams registered 20 to two, and City managed seven on target.
West Ham has been hovering around the middle of the table for much of the season and finished the evening in tenth.
Sergio Aguero was the man for the big moment again and he has been on the winning side in each of his last 24 league starts at the Etihad.
And Pep likes playing the Hammers; he has been on the winning side in all of his seven games against West Ham. But this was the first time in 16 Premier League games at the Etihad that City had failed to score two goals.
Pep takes his Sky Blues on a trip to the South coast next Saturday when they take on mid-table Bournemouth. The Cherries are always happier on their home turf and will be keen to recover from their latest drubbing on the road, having lost 5-1 to Arsenal this evening.
Manchester City have the first of their targets in the bank, having bagged the Carabao Cup last weekend. The league champions will be determined to stay in the hunt in the other three. Keep up with our us tips for the coming round of fixtures over the next couple of days.
The Hammers are at home to Newcastle this weekend, and the Magpies will arrive in good spirits having just defeated Burnley as they climb away from the danger zone.
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