West Ham prove no match for Champions Manchester City
18:02 11 May 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
The Hammers battled hard, but they could not stop the power of Manchester City as they secured the Premier League at The Etihad
Manchester City 2 West Ham United 0
Predictably, it was Manchester City’s afternoon as Manuel Pellegrini’s unfaltering side safely cleared the 38th and final hurdle to finish the season as Premier League champions at the Etihad Stadium, where the hardworking Hammers just did not have enough to change the course of the title race.
The red half of Manchester may still be scarred by the memories of seeing title-wrecking West Ham United destroy their dreams in 1992 and 1995 and, of course, no self-respecting East Ender will ever forget the the Survival Sunday victory at Old Trafford that sealed the Hammers great escape in 2007.
But on the blue side of the city, there were no such worries for Pelligrini’s unstoppable 100-goal gladiators, who came into this game safe in the knowledge that they had already beaten the visitors three times this season by an aggregate 12-1 scoreline.
The Hammers may have beaten Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday, but they came into this game playing for pride and retention of 12th spot and, following that third win of the season over Spurs, Sam Allardyce made just one switch as Joey O’Brien came in for the ill Guy Demel.
A midweek victory over Aston Villa meant that the Premier League title was City’s to lose and following the 4-0 win that effectively meant they only had to avoid defeat - and a totally improbable 13-goal difference swing - to lift the trophy, Pellegrini made just one ominous change as 28-goal Sergio Aguero came in for substitute James Milner.
On his last visit to the Etihad, Adrian had conceded six in the Capital One Cup semi-final, but with his defence defiantly repelling the predictable early Blue tide, the keeper had a reasonably comfortable opening 20 minutes, during which time David Silva slashed high and wide from 10 yards and Aguero sent a low, long-ranger skidding off the rain-drenched Etihad turf into the Spaniard’s gloves.
At the other end, Scouser Kevin Nolan tried to do his bit for his native Liverpool but his 25-yarder flew into the upper tier and, with helpful news filtering through that Newcastle had taken the lead at Anfield, Yaya Toure curled just inches wide before Aleksandar Kolarov saw his 35-yarder steam through the Manchester mist on to the fingernails of Adrian.
As the half-hour mark came and went, Edin Dzeko also scooped over, while Kolarov was more wayward second time around and, when the Hammers did find brief respite, Nolan was booked for stretching into Joe Hart as the pair went in pursuit of Mohamed Diame’s left-wing cross into the six-yard box.
But seven minutes before the break, Hart’s pain eased, when Nasri finally breached the Hammers defences to dispel any doubts about the destination of that Premier League trophy.
It all looked pretty harmless, when the Frenchman collected the ball back from Toure 30 yards out, but after taking a couple of strides forward, with minimal backlift, he unleashed a low shot that flew past Matt Taylor and Winston Reid before beating the outstretched right-hand of Adrian and thudding in-off the the base of the left post.
Nasri’s 11th goal of the campaign sent the Blue half of Manchester into ecstasy and with the final kick of the opening period, they almost started up the parade bus, but the silky Silva saw his angled effort fly off Nolan’s knee and up onto Adrian’s left-hand upright to safety.
Within four minutes of the restart, though, that double-decker was in gear, when Andy Carroll and Dzeko tangled as they went in pursuit of Nasri’s hanging corner and, with the ball dropping onto the six-yard line, the composed Kompany simply could not miss as he netted his fifth goal of the season.
With the game now gone, Taylor shot meekly at Hart, while the Hammers also forced their first corner of the afternoon before Martin Demichelis was booked for slicing Stewart Downing, a few minutes before Matt Jarvis replaced Nolan and Carlton Cole came on for Carroll, who did little to suggest that he is Brazil-bound.
Still City pressed as Aguero mis-kicked from just a couple of yards and Nasri fired straight at Adrian’s ankles but with the City fans, backs to the pitch, doing their famous Poznan celebration, nobody could have blamed them for not noticing Joe Cole replacing Diame for what was surely his final outing for the Hammers who finished a rollercoaster campaign in 13th spot.
CITY: Hart, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Kompany, Demichelis, Nasri, Garcia, Toure (Negredo 86), Silva (Milner 75), Aguero, Dzeko (Fernandinho 69). Unused subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Clichy, Jovetic
HAMMERS: Adrian, O’Brien, McCartney, Reid, Tomkins, Downing, Diame, (J. Cole 81), Taylor, Noble, Nolan (Jarvis 64), Carroll. Unused subs: Jaaskelainen, Armero, Vaz Te, Collins.
Bookings: Nolan (32), Demichelis (60), Aguero (90), Noble (90).
Referee: Martin Atkinson