Hammers unable to make headway in their battle for survival.West Ham United faltered to a sorry defeat at Upton Park, as Manchester City managed to go level on points with league leaders Arsenal.
Yaya Toure opened the scoring in the first-half with a blistering left footed strike, and doubled the lead with an excellent solo goal in the second period. Substitute Adam Johnson managed to drive the final nail in the coffin as the relegation strugglers were unable to make any progress in getting themselves off the foot of the table. A late goal from James Tomkins was all a little too late as it was little more than a consolation for the home side.
The east London club's boss Avram Grant made four changes to his line-up, as Julien Faubert slotted in at right-back. Kieron Dyer and Luis Boa Morte made way as Pablo Barrera and Junior Stanislas got the nod, while Frederic Piquionne was left to do the damage up front as Carlton Cole was benched for this encounter.
City boss Roberto Mancini was missing the services of his skipper Carlos Tevez, who was unavailable owing to a suspension through an accumulation of yellow cards. Aleksandar Kolarov was also banned for this game, only his was due to the red card against Bolton Wanderers in the last match.
And so began a game, with the visitors eying a chance to go level on points with league leaders Arsenal, while the Hammers were battling for dear life as they looked to rake in their push for survival.
It was barely a few minutes since the referee signaled the start of the proceedings, when some good work from Jo saw young forward Mario Balotelli in with a chance to put his side in the lead. But all that he was able to muster up was a tame tap in that went wide of the mark.
Ten minutes into the game, the Hammers' skipper Scott Parker tried an over-ambitious volley from about 40-yards out, but his effort bore no fruit as it went well wide of the goal.
The home side had looked a little shaky in defense early on, but had slowly become better as the game went on. And the only real quality at the time came from City midfielder Yaya Toure, who was making some fine runs before an eventual chance would fizzle out.
But this was not the case in the 30th minute, as Gareth Barry set up fellow midfielder Toure for a shot from just inside the box. And the Ivorian responded by blasting the ball into the back of the net, leaving goalkeeper Robert Green with little chance of doing anything about it. But the home side's boss may have been disappointed with Jonathan Spector, as the USA international allowed the former Barcelona man far too much space.
A few minutes later the travelers almost doubled their lead, when a good cross from David Silva saw Balotelli send a strong header goalwards. But Barrera was on hand to get in a block and clear the ball to safety.
Over at the other end, Parker was in the midst of another good performance, as he managed to create some space and fire a shot that went just wide.
Towards the end of the half, Piquionne capitalized on a cross from Julien Faubert to out-jump Kolo Toure to get in a good header. But unfortunately for the home side, the ball went over the crossbar.
Mancini's men began the second period in much the same way as they had begun the first, with a lot of possession but nothing in the way of genuine attacking intent.
Losing battle | Parker put in a bright performance on an otherwise dull day for West Ham
That gave the hosts the opportunity to try and restore parity, as Victor Obinna pushed forward on the left and sent in a low, but hard hit cross into the area. But 'keeper Joe Hart was on hand to prevent the ball from reaching an attacker.
The attacking intent breathed a new life into the Upton Park faithful, who had become ghostly quiet since their opponents had drawn first blood. And it spurred the side on to push into the attacking third on a regular basis.
But with a goal not forthcoming, it was City's turn to grab the game by the horns and settle matters. Yaya Toure had done very well to play Balotelli into space, and the striker was looking like going all the way. But defender James Tomkins got a fantastic challenge in and put the ball away for a corner.
With a little less than 25 minutes left to go, Grant's charges had a shout for a penalty, as the ball struck Toure's hand. But referee Phil Dowd may not have had a clear view of the situation due to the amount of bodies around the player at the time.
But the Ivorian was at the center of things again, as he wove his way through the home team's defense and sent in a shot that struck the post. But unfortunately for Green, the ball struck him and rolled into the back of the net.
And as if to emphasize on the eventual victory, Silva sent a superb pass to Johnson, who in turn went around the 'keeper to cap an impressive substitute performance.
With the game heading towards full-time, Hart was hollering to his defense to keep their concentration to ensure a clean sheet. But it was not to be, as Tomkins' header from a corner proved to be a consolation goal for the hosts.
As the man in charge brought the game to a halt, City celebrated the victory that takes them level on points with league leaders Arsenal, while West Ham fall to yet another sorry home defeat.
For more news on England, visit Goal.com's England section and join Goal.com USA's Facebook fan page!