By William Wood | In Match Reports - Home Games
Manchester City saw off the challenge of West Ham courtesy of a 3-1 victory, lifting them back up to fifth in the Barclays Premier League and securing their fifth victory in six games.
The three points also mean City sit just three points below league leaders and arch-rivals Manchester United, and Mark Hughes will have been delighted to see his side bounce back so convincingly from the 4-3 derby defeat eight days previous.
The match also saw City welcome Carlos Tevez’s former employers in The Hammers to the City of Manchester stadium, and he duly displayed exactly why he remains a firm favourite with the East Londoners with a brace of goals.
Micah himself lined up among the substitutes having shaken off a shoulder injury which had ruled him out of the Carling Cup earlier in the week, with Argentina international Pablo Zabaleta taking his place.
The hosts were dominant throughout the early spells of the game, going close on two occasions before Tevez finally broke the deadlock. Martin Petrov – making his first start of the season – cut in from the left and whipped the ball across the six-yard box, picking out his Argentine teammate in the process, and Tevez had the simple task of flicking the ball into the net.
It was the diminutive forward’s first league goal of the season, and he could have his second minutes later when he turned his man and shot inches wide, providing a momentary let-off for the away side.
At the other end Gianfranco Zola’s men were struggling to penetrate the City backline, with Mark Noble’s long-range effort the only noteworthy opportunity they mustered within the opening 10 minutes.
However, against the run of play West Ham did manage to find an equaliser when the home side’s defence failed to clear a free-kick into the area, and from Julien Faubert’s cross the in-form Carlton Cole back-heeled past Shay Given.
The striker then went close with a header from close-range which called for the full attention of Shay Given, though West Ham were dealt a body-blow as they began to assert themselves on the Eastlanders.
A free-kick from 30-yards was curled round the wall by Petrov’s left-boot, sending City back into the lead, and the goal seemed to knock the West Ham defence off their stride.
First, Tevez broke beyond the backline only for Robert Green to block his shot superbly, before Joleon Lescott headed wide from an unmarked position.
Zola and his men did get themselves level once again only for Scott Parker’s goal to be ruled out for an alleged push by Cole moments earlier, queuing more pressure from City as Craig Bellamy and Petrov’s efforts were denied by Green.
The frantic finish to the first-half seemed to take its toll on both sets of players when they emerged for the second 45 minutes.
However, when an event did occur it was favourable to City with 60 minutes on the clock. Bellamy worked a yard of space and chipped in to Tevez – in acres of space – who could once again convert the chance and hand his side a two-goal lead.
Zola’s team did have their chances, with James Tomkins failing to capitalise on a dangerous cross from the wing, and likewise Gareth Barry went close to adding a fourth for City only to be denied by Green.
Roque Santa Cruz made his long-awaited bow with 10 minutes left and could have grabbed a dream debut goal, instead steering just wide, but all in all Hughes will have been delighted with another efficient display from his rapidly-gelling team.
Man City: Given, Zabaleta, Toure, Lescott, Bridge, Wright-Phillips, De Jong, Barry, Petrov, Tevez, Bellamy. Subs: Taylor, Richards, Johnson, Santa Cruz, Garrido, Sylvinho, Weiss.
West Ham: Green, Faubert, Da Costa, Tomkins, Ilunga, Diamanti, Kovac, Parker, Noble, Jimenez, Cole. Subs: Kurucz, Spector, Nouble, Payne, Hines, N’Gala, Stanislas
Man City: Tevez (5’), Petrov (32’), Tevez (61’)
West Ham: Cole (24’)