It didn’t look pretty at times, but Manchester City snoozed their way to a solid 2-0 victory to pull back into the race for second place at the top of the table.
A painful own goal by James Collins and a second from Sergio Aguero saw Manchester City through, although it was marred by an injury to David Silva late.
The home side started out clearly the better team, with Silva failing with the game’s first chance just three minutes in. City looked like the more incisive team as well in the first 10 minutes, but they could not find the final ball. It didn’t help the visitors early that they were sloppy in possession, giving the ball away in dangerous areas numerous times.
For all the attacking threat City showed, West Ham conceded the softest of own goals for the opener on 18 minutes. A cross from Jesus Navas came in looking for Sergio Aguero, but with City on the break West Ham had it covered easily. The cross fell to the feet of James Collins who lashed a clearance, but the ball spun off his foot, looping over the head of goalkeeper Adrian, off the crossbar, and into the net.
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City would lull West Ham to sleep moving through the first half, and they struck again past the half-hour mark. Yaya Toure won the ball in the Manchester City half, and it sprung a breakaway with all Manchester City attackers getting forward. Sergio Aguero skipped by James Collins as he surged forward with help on either side, and after a quick touch to Navas on the right, Aguero got it back and slotted it home past Adrian for a 2-0 lead.
That lead saw Manchester City into halftime, and they eased through the second half as well, putting forth a number of solid chances in front of goal but crumbling before being able to put the ball in the net for a third. Fortunately for the home side, West Ham was awful and failed to threaten in the slightest as the click ticked towards the final 20 minutes.
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City also struggled with a few injury problems through the sleepy second half. Sergio Aguero, who briefly appeared to be limping after just 10 minutes had gone by but came back on, appeared to be dogged by some form of leg injury through the early parts of the second half too, but again stayed on.
The bigger worry came around the 68 minute mark when David Silva crumbled after taking a stray elbow from Cheikhou Kouyate directly to the jaw. The contact seemed unintentional as Kouyate, on the ball, looked to swim his way past Silva, but the City winger was eventually stretchered off in a neck brace after a lengthy delay.
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West Ham looked energized a bit by the break, but City returned to the supremacy with 10 minutes to go and they would see the game out. The visitors had one final chance, their best of the game, with a minute to go in regulation as Kevin Nolan intercepted a bad back-pass but Joe Hart saved well one-on-one. There were nine minutes of added time following Silva’s treatment, but West Ham had nothing to offer.
City remain in fourth, but the Citizens pull themselves just one point behind Manchester United for third place, and two back of Arsenal in second. West Ham, meanwhile, remain stuck in 10th and falling with just one point in their last three games.
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Mangala, Kolarov; Fernando, Yaya Toure; Navas, Lampard, Silva (Nasri 75′); Aguero.
Goals: Collins (og) 18′, Aguero 36′
West Ham United: Adrian, Reid, Cresswell, Kouyate, Downing, Noble, Jenkinson, Collins, Cole (Nolan 66′), Song (Jarvis 66′), Valencia.