City stay on course for Champions League spot

Manchester City 2 West Ham 1

Manchester City kept themselves firmly on course for Champions League qualification with victory over West Ham at Eastlands.

City were 2-0 up within the opening 15 minutes, Nigel de Jong powering home his first goal for the club and then Pablo Zabaleta guiding a shot on target beyond Robert Green which Lars Jacobsen inadvertently blasted into the net as he attempted to kick the ball away.

The Hammers hit back in the 33rd minute through Demba Ba, but it was the hosts who looked more likely to score another after the break and deservedly made off with all three points.

The result means City consolidate their top four spot in the Barclays Premier League, moving seven points clear of fifth-placed Liverpool.

West Ham, meanwhile, are still bottom of table, three points adrift of safety with three games left to play.

After the visitors had won an early corner and Danny Gabbidon sent a wild effort over from distance, City were soon in the ascendancy and driving forward.

David Silva saw a shot deflect wide and from the resulting corner, Mario Balotelli headed the wrong side of the post.

Silva then teed up Gareth Barry, who sent a shot into Green's arms.

At the other end, Thomas Hitzlsperger sent a free-kick into the box and it fell to James Tomkins, who could not fashion a proper shot.

Almost immediately City were back on the attack, with the lively Adam Johnson cutting inside from the right and hitting a low drive narrowly wide.

A minute later the hosts were in front as the Hammers failed to deal with Aleksandar Kolarov's corner and the ball came out to De Jong, who fired it into the corner from outside the area.

It took another five minutes for City to double their lead, Zabaleta playing a neat one-two with Silva and sending the ball across Green towards goal.

Jacobsen rushed in to try to make a clearance but could only fire it into the roof of his own net.

West Ham were looking bruised and their captain Matthew Upson - who had been involved in a collision with Balotelli - had to come off in the 26th minute, Manuel Da Costa the man coming on in his place.

They had a great chance to pull a goal back just after the half hour mark, though, as Robbie Keane found himself through one-on-one against Joe Hart.

The Irishman failed to make the most of the opportunity as Hart got down to save, but moments later the visitors did make it 2-1 through Demba Ba.

Hitzlsperger's cross into the box appeared to be handled by Joleon Lescott, but the ball fell straight to Ba, who dispatched it past Hart.

West Ham looked to keep up the pressure but City continued to create chances, with Balotelli miscuing an acrobatic attempt and Adam Johnson having the final shot of the first half, which Green collected.

Despite De Jong having to be substituted for James Milner at the break, City made a bright start to the second period and Balotelli crashed a shot against the bar 10 minutes in, Yaya Toure hitting the rebound at Green.

West Ham went close when Da Costa brought a save out of Hart with a flicked header from a corner, but soon after City wasted a glorious chance to restore their two goal advantage.

Having been put clean through by Toure, Silva danced around Green and squared to Balotelli, who had the goal at his mercy but saw his effort blocked on the line by James Tomkins.

Hammers boss Avram Grant then refreshed his forward line by replacing Keane with Carlton Cole.

Opposite number Roberto Mancini did likewise by bringing on Edin Dzeko in place of Gareth Barry and City had another good chance moments later, only for Silva to opt to pass when he might have shot.

Grant threw on Victor Obinna for Luis Boa Morte before Ba struck wide, but back came City, Dzeko unleashing an attempt that bounced off Green.

The goalkeeper then tipped a deflected Silva shot over the bar before Balotelli was taken off for Patrick Vieira.

Silva and Dzeko had further late attempts but City had done enough as referee Howard Webb confirmed their victory at the final whistle.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain