City returned to winning ways against London opposition with a deserved 2-1 win over West Ham at the Etihad Stadium.
Spurs spoiled a proud 12-match unbeaten record against teams from the capital this season with a 3-1 win at White Hart Lane last Sunday, but there was never a chance of that happening again in this game.
It wasn’t vintage stuff from City who dominated for long periods, but it’s another three points banked and proof that there will be no lack of effort in the remaining league fixtures.
In a week where the Blues’ failure to retain the title won so dramatically almost 12 months ago has been dissected, scrutinised and occasionally criticised by some of the nation’s media, it was good to get back to just playing football again, though the lunchtime kick-off did little to enhance what was largely a flat atmosphere.
Another sell-out Etihad crowd, however, refused to be too downbeat about the Premier League trophy crossing the city – briefly we all hope – to Old Trafford
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If anything, the build-up to the FA Cup final started in earnest against a West Ham side who had already secured their top flight future for at least another season.
City still need points to guarantee second spot and if anyone expected this to be a meaningless, half-hearted end of season affair, the early treatment of the fit-again David Silva suggested the visitors had a specific game plan in mind to unsettle the hosts.
The Hammers put ten men behind the ball every time City threatened in attempt to suffocate any threat of creativity – but that is something the Blues have become used to over the course of the 2012/13 campaign with a result at the Etihad a prize scalp for the majority of teams visiting
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Sergio Aguero should have put City ahead on 22 minutes when Silva’s deflected pass found him free in the box but his scuffed shot struck the post when it looked easier to score but a minute later the crowd were on their feet – to a man - but not for a goal.
The 23rd minute marked a celebration of Marc Vivien Foe who had represented City in that same numbered (and since retired) shirt - and also West Ham - with the tenth anniversary of his tragic death just weeks away.
City’s complete dominance was finally rewarded in the 28th minute when Samir Nasri’s cross was turned home by Aguero whose shot ended in the roof of the net from close range for his sixteenth goal of the campaign. That proved to be the highlight of an almost embarrassingly one-side first-half for the Blues.
Though the visitors caused more problems in the opening minute of the second period than they had in the entire first 45, normal service was quickly resumed with the tireless Carlos Tevez a constant thorn in his former employers’ defence and Nasri forcing a point-blank save from Jaaskelainen on the hour.
Tevez almost doubled the lead not long after but Joey O’Brien’s brave lunge saw his shot from six yards cleared over the bar with Jaaskelainen stranded.
The Blues’ refusal to kill the game off was underlined again in the 72nd minute when Aguero fed Tevez who in turn found Nasri with a fine cross but the Frenchman somehow skid the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.
As West Ham’s belief grew in the closing stages and it took a super strike from Yaya Toure on 83 minutes to finally settle the nerves of the home faithful and give the score a more realistic look.
The Ivorian midfielder picked the ball up outside the box before thumping a left-foot shot into the top corner from 20 yards with Jaaskelainen rooted to the spot
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There was still time for Carroll to finally get the better of Hart with almost the last kick of the game, but it was the only blight on an otherwise satisfactory 90 minutes for Roberto Mancini's men.