Sunday 15 September 2019

Sané stars as superb City leave Hammers in a spin

West Ham United 0 Manchester City 4

Raheem Sterling celebrates his first-half goal. Photo: Reuters
Raheem Sterling celebrates his first-half goal. Photo: Reuters

Paul McInnes

If you were looking for a contest that reflected well on the competitiveness of the Premier League, this was not it, as Manchester City comprehensively defeated a timid West Ham in less than 40 minutes.

Goals from David Silva, Raheem Sterling and a brace from Leroy Sané, the second coming in second-half injury time, came easily for the visitors.

Manchester City's Leroy Sane scores their third goal. Photo: Reuters
Manchester City's Leroy Sane scores their third goal. Photo: Reuters

The hosts, who spent £100m in the summer to challenge in the top half of the table and recruited a former City boss to help them do it, looked intimidated, and only came to life when the game was well and truly dead.

The first goal came from an apparently innocuous situation, if there is such a thing with City. Felipe Anderson surrendered possession outside City's box, trying to run the ball through a crowd of defenders in the 11th minute. Sané picked the Brazilian's pocket, and Kyle Walker pushed possession up-field before playing wide to Sterling.

From there it was two on four, but City's intricate movements were too much for the hosts. Sterling bent a cross behind the back line, Silva darted beyond it. His finish was a tidy reverse clip which left Lukasz Fabianski in a heap. He wasn't the last Hammers player to find himself in that situation.

Nine minutes later the lead was doubled, Sterling tucking home at the back post after Sané had bewildered Pablo Zabaleta on the right. It was astonishingly easy, and the way Sterling deserted Arthur Masuaku at the crucial moment raised questions as to why the offensively-focused wing-back had been selected ahead of the more defensively capable Aaron Cresswell.

David Silva of Manchester City scores his sides first goal. Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
David Silva of Manchester City scores his sides first goal. Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

West Ham decided to make a brief fist of it and they had two chances in the following couple of minutes. First Marko Arnautovic was teed up in the box by Michail Antonio, but with the ball trailing slightly behind him the Austrian couldn't find the right power and Walker slid in to block. For the second opportunity Antonio set himself up, but his fearsome shot was straight at Ederson.

The third goal came 10 minutes before half-time, and was just as simply achieved as the others. With City in prolonged possession, Fernandinho looped a pass over the heads of the West Ham defence and into the path of Sterling. The England man volleyed his cross first-time; Sané claimed it on the penalty spot, sent Fabián Balbuena sprawling with a half-turn and passed the ball beyond Fabianski.

There was no booing from the home fans as the players trooped off for the interval, and they may have seen worse since the club moved to the London Stadium last year. But this was still a performance that was both confusing and enervating.

In Manuel first encounter against the team he once led to a league title he had picked a side that seemed ill-suited to disrupting City's possession.

Cresswell came on for Masuaku at half-time and Javier Hernández replaced Grady Diangana to make it a 4-4-2 shortly afterwards. By this point City could have had four, Fabianski making a sliding tackle to stop Sterling, but the changes did give the hosts a bit more vigour.

There were a couple more half-chances for the hosts, Balbuena hoisting a decent header over the bar, but there was never anything approaching a comeback. As the game approached added time Arnautovic limped off the pitch and left West Ham to play with 10 men. They couldn't hold out for two extra minutes however, and Sané volleyed home at the far post with the last kick of the match.

Observer

 

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