Barclay’s Premier League
Saturday 11 December 2010, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Boateng, K Touré (c), Kompany, Zabaleta, Y Touré, de Jong, Barry, Silva (Milner 87), Balotelli (A Johnson 61), Jo
Unused: Given, Richards, Lescott, Vieira, Santa Cruz
Goals: Y Touré (29), Green (og 73), A Johnson (81)
Booked: Balotelli, de Jong, Zabaleta
Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the Match: David Silva
City started the brighter of the two teams, controlling the play in the opening stages in the West Ham half. Zabaleta tried to feed it through to Jo, before Silva did manage to find the Brazilian, wide on the left, but his low cross towards Balotelli was held by Green.
A minute later, the same combination should have put City into the lead. Silva found Jo wide on the left and he played it in to Balotelli on the edge of the six yard box. But, unmarked, the big Italian couldn’t find the net and his side-footed effort rolled wide of the far post.
Some neat interplay between de Jong, Yaya Touré and Jo then left the Dutch international a chance to cross, but it was just cut out before it reached Balotelli. The resulting corner was played short and led to half-hearted shouts for handball, before Boateng had to be across quickly to deny a quick West Ham breakaway.
West Ham had a little pressure on the City goal, with a couple of free kicks, but the crosses into the box were easily dealt with. Scott Parker than had West Ham’s first effort on goal – a volley from a clearance by Kolo Touré, from about 35 yards. Hart, though, had it well covered.
Nigel de Jong then gifted West Ham a shooting chance, giving away a free kick on the edge of the City box, after Balotelli had crossed high and wide from a free kick at the other end, but Stanislas skied it.
With just over 20 minutes played, Stanislas beat Boateng in City’s right back position and fired in a low shot towards goal. Hart saw it late, but he got down quickly to block and hold it.
A crunching challenge from Kompany then denied a quick breakaway by the home side and set City on the attack. Silva found Barry, who had the opportunity to drive the ball into the box low and hard, but it was blocked wide for the corner.
With 26 minutes on the clock, Yaya Touré picked up the ball in the midfield and drove towards goal. He carried it from halfway and into the West Ham box, but, instead of taking the shot with his left foot, he used the outside of his right and it was an easy save for Rob Green, who was able to hold it.
Barrera then had a pop from range, but it was watched well wide by Hart, before City went up the other end and took the lead. Yaya Touré found Barry wide on the left and the England international’s return pass was hit first time, just inside the area, with his left foot and it found the top corner emphatically.
City could have doubled the lead almost instantly, as a long throw-in from Boateng laded to Balotelli with his back to goal, but he couldn’t quite get his shot in, and West Ham managed to scramble it clear. Balotelli then had a free header cleared off the line from a corner, as City began to dominate.
Just before the clock ticked to 40, Scott Parker turned away well from Nigel de Jong before trying to slide a shot from the edge of the box inside Joe Hart’s post, but the City keeper had it covered and it was just wide.
West Ham had the chance to level just before the break, as Piquionne beat Kolo Touré in the air, but his header, from the penalty spot, was just over the bar and Joe Hart had it covered.
It was the home side who started the second half the better, with some pressure on Joe Hart’s goal. City, though, while struggling to get the ball away at times, weren’t troubled and West Ham couldn’t force a decent shot on target. A couple of corners were cleared, Joe Hart collected a low cross and a shout for a penalty for a handball by Yaya Touré were waved away – it would have been very harsh.
With 53 minutes gone, Yaya Touré had another shot from range that stung the gloves of Rob Green, but it was comfortably dealt with in one of City’s isolated second half attacks.
The same man had another effort from range, again held by Green, before Jo volleyed over from a deflected Silva cross, before an Adam Johnson corner caused chaos in the box, but the home side just about scrambled it clear.
As the game entered the final fifteen minutes, though, City were able to take it by the scruff of the neck and take complete control. Yaya Touré ran from the edge of the box, past Tomkins and into the box and fired in a low shot. It hit the post, bounced off the back of Green and into the net for 0-2.
And soon enough, City were showing their dominance. David Silva played a beautiful ball to Adam Johnson and the substitute took the ball around Rob Green and slid it into the net, taking them joint top of the Premier League.
But, there was a blemish on the copybook to come for City. With the game heading towards stoppage time, Tomkins was unmarked from a West Ham corner and he rose to head the ball past Joe Hart, with the aid of a deflection off Kolo Touré.