Manchester City 2 West Ham United 0

FA Premier League
Sunday 11 May 2014, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Kolarov, Garcia, Toure (Negredo 86), Silva (Milner 76), Nasri, Dzeko (Fernandinho 69), Aguero
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Clichy, Jovetic
Goals: Nasri (39), Kompany (49)
Booked: Demichelis, Aguero

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the Match: Yaya Toure

Kompany lifts the Premier League trophy

Kompany lifts the Premier League trophy

Manchester City are champions of England and have secured their first ever league and cup double. Indeed, victory over West Ham on the final match of the 2013-14 season ensured the Blues took only their second double – the first coming in 1970, when Joe Mercer’s City won the League Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup. Manuel Pellegrini’s City added a top-flight championship to the League Cup.

The home side went into their final match of the campaign knowing that a draw would be enough for them to take the crown – barring any sort of goalscoring miracle at Anfield. Compared to the title win of 2012, the mood inside the stadium was much more relaxed – though there was still the feeling things could go wrong if the Blues weren’t professional.

There was little danger of the team letting this one escape, however, as Pellegrini’s City were always in control of the match and eased to victory. The Manchester weather had been unwelcoming at the start, raining buckets onto an already soaked pitch – though, if anything, it aided the hosts’ slick passing moves.

One of the best moves of the campaign almost finished with a beauty of a goal. Zabaleta, Garcia and Nasri combined to work an opening for the cross from the right, and, as the ball fell to the back post, Silva arrived in time to volley at goal. He caught it sweetly, but got under it slightly too much and it was blasted just over the crossbar.

The home side wanted a penalty two minutes later as Zabaleta appeared to be felled by Diame inside the box, but the referee waved play on. He trod on the defender’s leg and tripped him up – the West Ham man was lucky.

Aguero had his first shot of the game, but he slipped in unleashing the long range effort and it went straight at the goalkeeper. That’s as news came through the Newcastle had taken the lead at Anfield and that the unlikely wasn’t happening in Liverpool. As the fans were settling down to the positive news from Merseyside, Kolarov blasted from long range, too – Adrian tipped his 40-yard effort over the bar.

Zabaleta in a tackle with Taylor.

Zabaleta in a tackle with Taylor.

As it looked like the Blues might end up being level with their visitors at half time, Nasri came up with a cracking strike to break the deadlock. He picked up the ball on the edge of the West Ham box and, after knocking it out of his feet, belted if for the bottom corner. Adrian got his fingers to it, but couldn’t redirect it enough – tipping it onto the post and into the net.

And it could have been two on two occasions going into the break. First, Aguero deflected Nasri’s free kick across the face of goal and the diving Kompany couldn’t reach to touch over the line, before, second, Silva’s deflected effort crashed into the crossbar. The Spaniard wriggled free inside the box and shot for the far post, but it deflected up off a defender in front of him, hit the underside of the bar and bounced to safety.

Early in the second, the home side doubled their advantage: a corner to the near post was half headed away by the visiting defence and half knocked down by Dzeko. Waiting was the captain and Kompany turned to belt the ball past Adrian and into the back of the net.

City were sensing the kill was on the cards. Nasri stung the goalkeeper’s gloves with another long range effort, Aguero tried to angle a header into the top corner but just got slightly too much elevation on the effort, while the Argentine should have scored with just over 20 minutes to play. A low cross from Zabaleta picked out the striker, but he couldn’t adjust his feet quickly enough to turn it into the empty net.

The result never looked in doubt in truth and, with just over 10 minutes to play, the Blues almost had their third. Toure chipped a cute ball over the static Hammers’ back line for Nasri or Zabaleta to run on to. The Frenchman took control and smashed his shot for goal, but Adrian got his foot in the way to keep it out.

In the end, the Blues weren’t able to get their third goal and they finished the season with a solid, professional and comfortable 2-0 win. It was more than enough for the club to lift their second ever Premier League title.

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West Ham United 0 Manchester City 3 (agg 0-9)

League Cup Semi Final Second Leg
Tuesday 21 January 2014, 19.45 KO

City: Pantilimon, Clichy, Nastasic, Lescott (c), Boyata, Fernandinho, Garcia (Rodwell 63), Lopes, Navas (Kolarov 79), Negredo, Aguero (Jovetic 65)
Unused: Hart, Demichelis, Zabaleta, Dzeko
Goals: Negredo (3, 59), Aguero (24)
Booked: Aguero, Clichy

Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: Marcos Lopes

Lopes jinks past Taylor.

Lopes jinks past Taylor.

With the tie already won from the first leg, West Ham seemed dead on the feet even from kick off. It took the visitors less than three minutes to extend their lead from the previous game – Lopes found space on the left flank and crossed to the middle, where the marking was non-existent. Negredo met it unchallenged in the six-yard box and found the net.

The Hammers responded by putting the ball in City’s net through Nolan latching on to a Diame cross, but the linesman’s flag put an early end to any celebrations from the home fans. Nolan had been a yard offside when the cross was put in.

Carroll connected to a header inside the box as Lescott wasn’t aware the forward was there, after Diame fired over from a Carroll flick on. At the other end, Aguero forced Jaaskelainen into a good save, pushing the Argentine’s effort from the edge of the box around the post.

The visitors added their second of the night – and eighth of the tie – just before the 25 minute mark. A mazy run from Lopes opened up the West Ham defence and the ball fell kindly for Aguero after the Portuguese winger tried to slide the striker through. Jaaskelainen committed himself and Aguero dinked it over the goalkeeper and into the net.

Early in the second half, a great tackle from Lescott denied Morisson inside the box, with the former United man looking for a penalty – though the referee waved away the claims. Pantilimon stood big to deny Cole, before a challenge on Nolan by Nastasic could have also been a penalty, but once more the referee turned down the appeals.

On the hour mark – despite West Ham’s spell of pressure – the visitors went on to score their third. Negredo picked up the ball on the edge of the box and simply bullied his way through the home side’s defence. Three players tried to stop him, but he bulldozed his way through, before flicking the ball over Jaaskelainen.

Lopes came close to scoring – completely by accident, it must be said – as his left-footed cross dropped onto Jaaskelainen’s crossbar, before both Negredo and Rodwell couldn’t find room for a shot as they wriggled inside the West Ham box – both won corners.

With 15 minutes to place, West Ham twice came close to a consolation: First Rodwell got up ahead of Diame to head the ball behind and, from the resulting corner, the Hammers’ midfielder headed wide from inside the six-yard box. Navas responded with a blast over the bar, from a cute lay-off by Jovetic.

In the end, the game meandered to a close, with City coasting to victory. It was nine on aggregate in total, but could have been so much more – City strolled to Wembley.

Manchester City 6 West Ham United 0

League Cup Semi Final First Leg
Wednesday 8 January 2014, 19.45 KO

City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Lescott, Clichy, Nasri, Toure (Demichelis 66), Garcia, Silva (Lopes 73), Negredo (Kolarov 79), Dzeko
Unused: Hart, Nastasic, Fernandinho, Milner
Goals: Negredo (12, 26, 49), Toure (40), Dzeko (60, 89)
Booked:

Referee: Jon Moss
Man of the Match: Alvaro Negredo

Negredo doubles City's lead.

Negredo doubles City’s lead.

With the way that City have been knocking goals in at home this season, Pellegrini was making his intentions clear: Get the job done in the first leg, as he named a strong starting line-up. It paid off as Pantilimon’s work was little more than collecting crosses and clearing back-passes in a game that the Blues dominated from start to finish.

It started to go downhill for the Hammers on 12 minutes. There was a certain sense of irony in the manner in which the Blues scored their first; City have the reputation as the one-touch specialists, while it’s Allardyce’s teams who carry the long-ball reputation. But Toure played it long for the run of Negredo, whose superb volley, over his shoulder, nestled in the bottom corner.

The second goal of the night virtually killed any competitive edge in the tie – not that there was much to begin with. Negredo dummied the ball for Dzeko to receive it mid-way into the West Ham half. The Bosnian controlled, turned and laid it off into the path of his strike partner, who took a touch and, on the slide, powered it into the top corner from just inside the box.

As the first half wore on, City should have been further in front. Garcia stabbed over from a Silva corner, before a great run by Nasri set-up Dzeko to shoot from just inside the box. The Bosnian, however, got under the ball and it ended up in the fans behind the goal.

With five minutes until the break, however, the home side made it three. The ball bounced kindly for Negredo in the centre-circle and Toure took it off the Spaniard’s toes to run at the West Ham defence. He just kept going until he was inside the box, where his shot took the slightest of deflections on its way past Adrian and into the net.

Negredo’s hat-trick came a mere four minutes into the second period. A corner from the left was cleared as far as Silva, who wriggled his way into the box to square towards Dzeko. It was deflected straight into the path of Negredo, whose side-footed shot picked out the left side of the net.

Nasri has an effort on goal.

Nasri has an effort on goal.

But City weren’t done. Toure tried an effort from a free kick on the edge of the box, but his shot was just over the bar, before a Dzeko blast from range missed the top corner by inches. The Bosnian, though, didn’t have to wait much longer to get his name on the score sheet, touching in a low Clichy cross on the hour mark.

It quickly became a training exercise for the home side, who were keeping the ball expertly and barely out of second gear, despite the scoreline. Negredo had a shot deflected around the post, before Dzeko’s header was superbly saved by Adrian – who was doing his level best to keep the score down.

That was until a minute from the end, when Dzeko added his second of the evening to make it six for City, and five for him in four appearances in the competition for this season. Kolarov’s pull-back found the Bosnian just inside the box and the striker got a good connection to smash it past the stationary goalkeeper.

At the mid-way point in the semi-final, City look already on the way to Wembley, barring a miracle at Upton Park for the Hammers. If anything, 6-0 flattered the visitors; it could have been much more.

West Ham United 1 Manchester City 3

FA Premier League
Saturday 19 October 2013, 17.30 KO

City: Hart, Richards, Garcia, Nastasic, Clichy, Nasri (Milner 74), Fernandinho, Toure (c), Silva, Aguero (Jovetic 82) Negredo (Kolarov 66)
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Lescott, Dzeko
Goals: Aguero (16, 51), Silva (80)
Booked: Silva, Clichy

Referee: Michael Oliver
Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero

Aguero opens the scoring.

With a shaky away record, the Blues needed a confident start at Upton Park and that’s precisely what they got. A through ball by Fernandinho for Negredo was ignored completely by the striker and it allowed Aguero to latch on, clear for a one-on-one. He was well onside and just stroked to coolly past the on-rushing Jaaskelainen to open the scoring.

Three minutes later and – somehow – Aguero managed to miss a golden chance. A ball in from the left was flicked to the middle by Negredo, but cleared to the edge of the box. It landed nicely for the Argentine to volley, but with the entire goal to aim at, he hit it straight at the goalkeeper.

Soon, though, West Ham launched a response: A ball in from the left allowed Diame a chance to head, but it was cleared just in front of him, before Vaz Te missed the opportunity to shoot – instead taking an airshot as the ball bobbled through the box. Morrison had a pop from the edge of the area, but it was well wide.

A slack ball from Nasri sold Toure short and Diame was in quickly to steal possession. He crossed towards Vaz Te in the middle, but Garcia got up higher to flick the header away and it fell nicely for Hart. Similarly, Silva won possession at the other end, before squaring for Toure to shoot – Jaaskelainen pushed it behind.

Nastasic battles with Downing.

City – who had been unable to get the second goal on their previous away trips this season and been punished – started the second half by doubling their lead. Aguero was felled on the left side of the box and, from the resulting free kick, Silva found the Argentine unmarked. He headed for the near post and, despite Jaaskelainen’s attempted intervention, it found the top corner superbly.

Hart, who had been under pressure in recent weeks following a series of mistakes, was right back on form to deny the Hammers a goal just before the hour mark. As Diame was put through, he was off his line quickly to dive at his feet.

But the pressure on the visitors didn’t ease soon. Morrison chipped the ball over his own head for Vaz Te, who was just onside, and the striker’s over-head kick gave Hart no chance as it nestled in the bottom corner. The home side were right back in the game.

Aguero had the chance to seal his hat-trick as he found a pocket of space inside the West Ham box, but his curling effort towards the far corner was well pushed away by Jaaskelainen. It had looked for a second like the striker had caught the goalkeeper out, but he produced a good save.

With the City fans bracing themselves for a tight finish, Silva eased the worries somewhat with ten minutes to play. Aguero was played through and instead of taking his difficult chance on for a hat-trick, he touched it back for the Spaniard. He set himself and bent it into the corner of the net to restore City’s two goal advantage.

It was enough to secure City’s first away win in the league this season.

West Ham United 0 Manchester City 0

FA Premier League
Saturday 3 November 2012, 17.30 KO

City: Hart, K Toure, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy, Y Toure, Nasri (Sinclair 90), Barry, Tevez (Garcia 84), Dzeko, Balotelli (Aguero 69)
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Razak
Goals:
Booked:

Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the Match: Mario Balotelli

It was a very even start to the game, with both sides pushing for early control. A free kick mid-way into the City half allowed West Ham to loft the ball into the box and Nolan nodded it past Joe Hart, but his celebration was cut short by an offside flag. City were lucky, especially with replays suggesting the West Ham man was level with the visitors’ back line.

City responded with some pressure of their own. Some neat play in the middle of the pitch allowed Nasri to shoot from the edge of the box. It was pushed away by Jaaskelainen and Dzeko headed the rebound at goal, but he was also flagged offside. Not that it mattered, as the effort dropped wide, with Balotelli unable to touch it in.

With 12 minutes played, Diame found acres of space on the left side of City’s box and it allowed him to cut inside. As he entered the area, he belted a shot at goal, but he got underneath it and Joe Hart was able to cover it and let it go over the bar. The England goalkeeper was then helpless as Benayoun hit the bar.

Tevez hit a free kick into the West Ham wall, before, a few minutes later, he stole the ball back from the home side’s defence on the right flank and squared for Dzeko on the edge of the box. The Bosnian’s effort, though, curled easily into the hands of Jaaskelainen. Carroll could have opened the scoring in between those efforts, with a low drive, but it narrowly missed Hart’s post.

Some more City pressure put West Ham on the back foot. A Balotelli volley was blocked by Benayoun, before a Tevez free kick found the Italian unmarked inside the six-yard box. Somehow, though, the forward got underneath the effort and skied it, with Jaaskelainen rooted to his line. Kolo Toure set up Balotelli with a good shooting chance, but his effort didn’t go near the goal.

Balotelli tried an overhead kick as the board went up for stoppage time, but it caught his shin and didn’t trouble the West Ham goal. This followed Kolo Toure picking up a loose ball from a City corner and feeding it through to his brother on the right side of the box. Yaya Toure, unmarked, took a touch to control and, as he was closed down, fired his shot in. He sliced it, though, and it spun wide at the near post.

Early in the second half, some good work from Dzeko and Nasri allowed the forward to smash a ball across the face of goal. Balotelli, though, in the six-yard box, took a fresh air shot. Tevez rescued the ball and got a shot in, but it was a simple save for Jaaskelainen.

But then West Ham began to press. Nolan headed wide from a Benayoun cross as he stretched to reach it, before Carroll tried an overhead kick. He caught it well and it was on target, until it was blocked behind for a corner. From the flag kick, City struggled to clear, but West Ham couldn’t force a shooting opportunity.

A brilliant ball from Yaya Toure set Clichy through on the left flank. He looked inside for Dzeko, but the Bosnian couldn’t get a decisive touch on the ball to redirect it on target and it bobbled behind without troubling the goalkeeper. Tevez skied a shot from inside the box, after Clichy had recovered the ball on the left wing and picked out Balotelli in the middle. The Italian rolled it into the Argentine, but he couldn’t keep his left-footed effort down.

It was backs to the wall for West Ham with 15 minutes to play, as City pushed for the opening goal. Clichy had a drive at the box after having done brilliantly to keep possession under pressure, but it was blocked inside the box. Dzeko tried to hit the rebound, but his shot was blocked.

City spent the end of the game throwing the kitchen sink at the hosts, but despite a toe-poke from the edge of the box by Yaya Toure, the visiting side just couldn’t trouble Jaaskelainen in the West Ham goal. It was the first time City failed to score this season and the first goalless draw since Boxing Day 2011, but the Champions do remain unbeaten.