Citizens dealt a Hammer Blow
Written By: Robert Halter
Fourth placed West Ham United faced reigning champions Manchester City, and in the opening minute, Adrian sprawled to his right as Sergio Aguero’s deflected strike was clawed behind the right post. In the fourth minute, after Mark Noble pulled down his matching number 16, Aguero, from the resulting free kick, David Silva floated the ball over the crossbar. Two minutes later, Morgan Amalfitano was booked for fouling Jesus Navas on the right hand side, who duly obliged by sending a free kick to Citizens captain, Vincent Kompany, who headed over. But a minute later, a state of panic by Elaquim Mangala, as he clumsily hooked the ball in his own area, alerted City keeper, Joe Hart, who palmed the ball over. In the eighteenth minute, after Enner Valencia was harshly challenged by Kompany, a free kick was floated in from inside his own half by James Collins and Hart was left worse for wear from a collision into by Valencia. But on twenty one minutes, the Hammers broke the deadlock as Alex Song slid the ball through to Valencia, who while making the cross ran into the hoardings but his ball over was picked out by Amalfitano, who put his shot into the left side of the goal. City were then unable to convert a Navas corner as Dzeko put his header over. In the twenty eighth minute, Stewart Downing combined with Sakho, whose cross failed to be cleared by Pablo Zabaleta, and Downing latched onto the rebound but was unable to find the target. In just over the half hour mark, Yaya Toure combined with Aguero, who drove the ball wide of the goal mouth. In the forty first minute, Aaron Cresswell delivered a cross from the left flank and Valencia was quick to react but his strike whistled wide. Just before the break, Kompany was booked for a challenge on Valencia and from Noble’s quickly taken free kick, Cresswell’s delivery was driven wide by Amalfitano. But Adrian’s outstretched foot prevented an equaliser by Aguero, just before the break, after a ball had been played in by Navas. Seven minutes into the second half, Kompany was lucky to stay on the park for a foul on Valencia, and as the ball broke to Collins, after Valencia’s free kick had cannoned off the wall, amongst a crowded penalty box, Collins struck a low shot fractions wide. In the fifty eighth minute, a floated cross by Noble on the left side was thrashed over the bar by Sakho. As City took off Dzeko for Stevan Jovetic, within a minute, Adrian deflected away a close range strike by Aguero, after Silva had created the opening. On sixty six minutes, Toure liknked up with Navas, whose pin point right wing cross was latched upon by Aguero, whose fierce thundering effort crashed against the underside of the bar before Adrian saved the rebound from Toure. The Hammers then changed Amalfitano for Cheikhou Kouyate. But on seventy one minutes, the Irons upped their tempo as Song’s threaded pass was laid off by Kouyate before Sakho drilled his strike inches over the top. Two minutes later, City were again denied by the woodwork, when Silva supplied Toure, who curled the ball against the right corner of the upright. It was a turning point in the match as aided by goal line technology, Sakho’s header was adjudged to have crossed the line from a Downing delivery, to put the Hammers’ two goals to the good. The Irons then replaced Valencia for Carlton Cole. But the magic man, Silva produced a piece of brilliance to bring the score back to 2-1 in the seventy seventh minute, after Silva weaved his way through before bending the ball in. City changed James Milner for Fernando and Aleksandar Kolarov for Gael Clichy. In the eighty third minute, another Downing delivery was latched upon by Noble but Hart collected. The Hammers then took off Sakho for Kevin Nolan. As Toure found the side netting from Milner’s incisive pass, the Hammers had more to do in stoppage time when Adrian acrobatically turned away Jovetic’s long range bending effort and then a defensive block by Collins kept out Kolarov’s goal bound strike.