City see off Hammers
Published 27/04/2013 | 14:56
Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure lifted the post-title gloom for Manchester City with a couple of outstanding goals to defeat West Ham 2-1.
Last season's elation at Eastlands has been replaced by the grim realisation that the red enemy from down the road are back in their familiar position of champions. Manager Roberto Mancini has already demanded that the summer transfer business should not drag on like last year.
But the City chief clearly has plenty of quality at his disposal already, and the delightful efforts Aguero and Toure contributed to the entertainment underlined the fact they remain a force. There was an unexpected post-script to the day though, with Joe Hart's mistake allowing Andy Carroll to net an injury-time consolation amid fears the goalkeeper had suffered an injury himself.
Toure first exchanged passes with Samir Nasri before the France midfielder played a sublime one-two with David Silva inside the Hammers box. Nasri crossed low to the near post, where Aguero turned home his 15th goal of the season.
They nearly made it two almost immediately as Jussi Jaaskelainen failed to hold Nasri's 20-yard strike and Pablo Zabaleta closed in. The Argentina star seems certain to be named in the PFA Premier League team of the year on Sunday and must have thought he was going to mark the occasion with a goal, only for Jaaskelainen to turn away the shot.
Returning after three matches out with a hamstring injury, Silva did his best to prompt City into life, setting Aguero up with a chance he would normally have buried but instead scuffed into the ground and onto a post.
Sam Allardyce's side returned with a sense of purpose after the interval, but it was City who nearly extended their lead as Carlos Tevez's shot was blocked by Winston Reid.
Tevez turned provider for Nasri shortly afterwards, but with the goal gaping the man who left Arsenal two years ago and won a title at the first time of asking attempted to prod home with his right foot and missed the ball altogether.
On the touchline, Mancini's face was a picture as he slumped into his seat. Frustration turned to elation 10 minutes from time as Toure provided another moment of magic, creating space for himself on the edge of the area before smacking a clinical effort into the top corner. In its own way, it was as wonderful as City's opener.
And City nearly added further gloss to their day when Aguero was inches away after turning home the loose ball after Jaaskelainen had parried Zabaleta's shot. The last action involved Hart though, who had gone down with an injury a couple of minutes earlier and still seemed to be bothered by it as he inexplicably allowed Carroll's shot to roll through his legs.