West Ham United 1 Manchester City 4: Hammers torn apart by rampant Citizens
PUBLISHED: 16:22 29 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:22 29 April 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
Premier League: West Ham United 1 (Cresswell 42) Manchester City 4 (Sane 13, Zabaleta o.g. 27, Jesus 53, Fernandinho 64)
Outclassed, outplayed and out-thought, the Hammers now face a fraught fortnight ahead following this forlorn defeat at the hands of the convincing champions.
David Moyes men stand just three points clear of the dreaded drop as they contemplate Saturday’s tricky trip to Leicester City and testing home encounters against Manchester United and Everton.
Leroy Sané’s deflected opener and an own-goal by former City stalwart Pablo Zabaleta sent the runaway leaders into a two-goal lead within half-an-hour and, although Aaron Cresswell pulled one back just before the break with a stunning free-kick, Gabriel Jesus tapped in just after the restart before Fernandinho emptied London Stadium midway through the second half.
A cruel cocktail of a last Sunday’s late capitulation at Arsenal mixed with struggling Southampton’s victory over Bournemouth yesterday afternoon, resulted in the Hammers coming into this unenviable fixture looking over their shoulders in 15th place with just that three-point cushion between themselves and the drop-zone.
After seeing his side shot down by the Gunners, Moyes made a trio of changes as Adrián returned between the sticks in place of on-loan Joe Hart, who was ineligible to face his parent club, while Patrice Evra and Manuel Lanzini also came in for substitutes Arthur Masuaku and João Mário.
And with an unlucky 13 minutes on the clock, two of those call-ups had an unfortunate start to the afternoon, when Man-of-the-Match, Raheem Sterling squared to the recalled Sané on the right-hand edge of the Hammers area and, with the German international letting fly from 20 yards, the stooping Evra saw the ball deflect off his head and beyond the wrong-footed Adrián.
Even before Sané had netted his 14th goal of the season, there had an eerie sense of inevitable expectation around London Stadium and, already, with less than a quarter-hour on the clock, the Hammers now had an even steeper uphill climb.
City had sunk Swansea City with a fabulous five-goal blast last weekend and, arriving in the capital, the newly-crowned champions, made a quartet of changes as Sané, Fernandinho, Kyle Walker and Nicolás Otamendi replaced David Silva and Vincent Kompany plus substitutes Danilo and Bernardo Silva.
Kicking off with 90 points and 98 goals, Pep Guardiola’s table-toppers had the incentive of both century targets well in their sights with four left to play and after Ikay Gündogan and Fernandinho both tried their luck from range, City hit their ton of goals on 27 minutes and, yet again, it was a Hammer, who had the crucial last touch.
This time, Adrián raced from his area to slide-tackle the escaping Sterling and although Ogbonna managed to head the England winger’s retrieval clear, the visitors kept the ball alive, working it wide to Kevin De Bruyne, whose low right-wing cross into the six-yard box was deflected into his own net by the unfortunate Zabaleta.
Sané almost made it No. 101, ten minutes before the break but Adrián bravely dived into his studs as the City striker attempted to round the helplessly exposed – and overworked - Spanish stopper.
At the other end, all the Hammers had to show for their first-half efforts was the sight of the lively Lanzini’s low cross being palmed away from an in-rushing Aaron Cresswell by Ederson, while Otamendi was later booked for felling the Argentinian playmaker.
Ploughing a lone furrow up front, Marco Arnautović thought he had pulled one back, when he tackled an over-elaborate Ederson on the edge of his area before slotting home but the Austrian was adjudged to have fouled the City ‘keeper with his challenge.
But three minutes before the break, West Ham did give themselves some short-lived second-half hope, when Gündogan tripped Edimilson Fernandes on the edge of the area leaving Cresswell to claim his first goal of the season with an exquisite, 20-yard free-kick that curled over the City wall and inside the well-beaten Ederson’s left-hand post.
Still there was time for De Bruyne to curl wide and Adrián to thwart Sterling’s point-blank stinger in a warning as to what could follow after the restart.
Sure enough, just seven minutes into the second half, Sterling sizzled down the right and after unbalancing Cresswell, the England flyer squared the ball to the edge of the six-yard box, where Jesus simply side-stepped Zabaleta before slotting his 16th goal of the season beyond Adrián.
With Sterling and De Bruyne also going close, Moyes prepared to make a triple-switch but before he could bring those three fresh-faces into the fray, any slender hope of a Hammers recovery evaporated into the Stratford skies on 64 minutes, when Fernandinho robbed Lanzini on the half-way line.
Feeding the ball wide to that man Sterling, the City skipper powered through the wide-open spaces of the home defence and, arriving on the penalty spot, Fernandinho fired the winger’s return past Adrián to net his fourth of the campaign and open up an unassailable three-goal lead.
Masuaku, Mario and Javier Hernàndez stepped from the bench as Evra, Fernandes and Lanzini retired but, by now, that contest was long-over and as City go in search of those 100-points, the Hammers must concentrate on getting just three at Leicester’s King Power Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
West Ham: Adriàn, Rice, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Zabaleta, Evra (Masuaku 65), Fernandes (Mário 65), Kouyaté, Noble, Lanzini (Hernàndez 65), Arnautović. Unused subs: Trott, Carroll, Hugill, Cullen.
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker (Danilo 61), Delph, Laporte, Otamendi, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Gündogan (Touré 71), Sterling, Sané, Jesus (Nmecha 78). Unused subs: Bravo, Bernardo Silva, Mendy, Foden.
Booked: Otamendi (36).
Referee: Neil Swarbrick.