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Premier League

  • 1 May 2011
  • • 16:10
  • • Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Referee: H. Webb
  • • Attendance: 44511
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Manchester City 2-1 West Ham United: Mancini’s side open seven-point gap over Liverpool & Spurs but Demba Ba strike ensures nervy finish

Manchester City 2-1 West Ham United: Mancini’s side open seven-point gap over Liverpool & Spurs but Demba Ba strike ensures nervy finish

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City’s early dominance is not followed through as Hammers second half revival falls short leaving Avram Grant’s side rock bottom of table three points from safety


Manchester City have tightened their grip on the prospect of Champions League football next season as a 2-1 victory over West Ham United at Eastlands on Sunday moves Roberto Mancini’s side to within five points of third place Arsenal and seven ahead of fifth placed Liverpool. The result also sees the Hammers remain bottom and still, agonisingly, three points from safety.

Goals from Nigel de Jong and Pablo Zabaleta gave City all three points and ensured that Avram Grant’s side's fate is still up in the air. Demba Ba’s goal for the visitors was not enough to produce the result that West Ham desperately need.

With the end of the season rapidly approaching, every game counts and with each positive result, Mancini seems more and more likely to achieve his main aim for the season, in qualifying for Europe’s pre-eminent club competition. West Ham on the other hand, are fighting for their lives and, with co-owner David Sullivan giving the club a 25% chance of staying up, there seems to be little confidence emanating from Upton Park these days.

With City sitting very nicely in fourth spot before kickoff and West Ham acting as the prop to the rest of the table, an easy and effective performance was what the City fans would have been wanting as they strolled in the Mancunian sunshine prior to the game.

And that is what they got for the most part. Roberto Mancini has turned City from a lethargic yet expensive unit into a slick, organised and potent side. Right from the get go his side meant business and for all West Ham tried, it wasn’t enough to stop the irresistible City thrust.

But despite the wide array of attacking threats of City, the opening goal came from an unusual source. Nigel de Jong has become a staple of the City midfield, his bullish style of play is his trademark but his charging run from a corner was finished with a piledriving volley that left Robert Green in the West Ham net with no chance. It was the Dutchman’s first goal for City and gave Mancini’s side the perfect start.

The City fans had barely finished celebrating when a meandering run from Pablo Zabaleta saw the Argentine burst into the Hammers box, before evading the onrushing Rob Green with a deft touch. With the ball seemingly goalbound, West Ham full back Lars Jacobsen was only able to divert the shot into the roof of the net, as his attempted clearance went in vain.


The Power of Ba | West Ham man pulls one back for the Hammers

Mancini was elated on the sidelines and City were looking in total control of the afternoon and showing little in the way of any fallibility which would allow the visitors back in.

Things were going from bad to worse for Avram Grant - skipper Matthew Upson was not fully fit before kickoff and he only lasted 25 minutes before he trotted off to be replaced by Da Costa.

Just after the half hour West Ham showed signs of life and Robbie Keane had a wonderful chance to pull one back when his run beat the offside trap and gave him a one-on-one with Joe Hart, who until this point had had little to do. The Irishman bore down on Hart only needing to chip the ball lightly over the advancing ‘keeper but Hart did enough to keep the ball from its intended path and City breathed easy once more.

This relaxed demeanour didn’t last, however, as Demba Ba struck after excellent refereeing from Howard Webb allowed play to continue after a Joleon Lescott handball. The Senegalese striker gave hope to the Hammers and made the halftime score far more respectable.

In the second period both sides had chances to increase the scoreline. Mario Balotelli’s thunderous shot which rattled the crossbar could have killed the game off but West Ham were showing a tenacity which belied their league position.

Da Costa had a free header which he only directed straight at Hart and moments later, David Silva’s hesitancy let West Ham off the hook since if the Spaniard was more alert he could have played in Balotelli for a clear cut chance on goal.

West Ham's dogged determination was a real plus for the fans who made the trip north. There were a number of spells in the second half which showed that there’s plenty of fight left and they were capable of troubling City’s expensive side. The City fans were growing frustrated with this turn of events and were anxious as their side held the slimmest of leads. A trait which must be arrested if they are to challenge for the title next term.

On another day West Ham could have got the levelling goal they deserved, but when you’re at the wrong end of the table nothing goes for you and the Hammers continue to stare down the barrel of relegation.

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