Manchester City 2 West Ham 0 match report: No panic as City allowed a final-day stroll to second Premier League title in three years

Vincent Kompany and Samir Nasri scored for City in victory at the Etihad

Etihad Stadium

Some triumphs are experienced in the white heat of a last-minute goal, like the one scored by Sergio Aguero two years ago and others, like this final step to winning the league title, can be savoured like the proverbial bottle of fine wine, safe in the knowledge that the outcome is assured.

At Manchester City, where calamity was once only a heartbeat away, this was as close to a stroll to the title that they could have imagined on the day Liverpool were undone by Chelsea and City assumed the pole position in the title race. Manuel Pellegrini’s team controlled the game from beginning to end against a West Ham team so bereft of ambition and drive, one wonders where it was a struggle for them to get off the team bus.

Nevertheless, this City team have shown maturity and composure to close the deal. This is undoubtedly the best squad in the Premier League, but in a season when old certainties have splintered, nowhere more so than across town, they have not been allowed to cruise to the title until the last day. It has been a triumph that they have had to carve out game by game.

From Samir Nasri’s 39th-minute goal, and with Liverpool then trailing to Newcastle, the stadium calmed down and enjoyed the ride. Four minutes after half-time, Vincent Kompany scored the second and there was a margin for error that not even an attack of that condition formerly known as “Cityitis” could erode. Yet it is a measure of how relatively new to this kind of success the club is in the modern era that the final whistle precipitated a full-blown pitch invasion.

 

They never invaded the pitch at Old Trafford in those salad days when the Premier League trophy came back season after season, but there is still the mild sense of disbelief, six years after Sheikh Mansour took over, that this is really happening to City. If Pellegrini hits the club’s target of five trophies in five years, and he is two up already, then perhaps an air of complacency will set in. As things stand, it feels a long way off.

Samir Nasri fires City ahead at the Etihad Stadium Samir Nasri fires City ahead at the Etihad Stadium This was only the second trophy of his career, but the City manager kept it low-key, as one would expect of him, edging away from the champagne spraying lest it wreck his club suit. Anointed as City’s charming man by the fans, he did not want to end up without a stitch to wear. In the end, Kompany and Yaya Toure had to drag their manager away from a Sky Sports interview to give him the traditional celebratory bumps.

This must be what the City hierarchy had in mind when they launched the “holistic” approach in the wake of Roberto Mancini’s departure last summer, an admittedly brave sortie into the contemporary lexicon in a sport wedded to older values. If they meant a manager who did not wish to fight his own players in training then they picked the right man, and his popularity was reflected in the way his players sought him out at the end.

As against Aston Villa last week, this was another game in which it paid for City to be patient and await the inevitable crack in a West Ham defence that was too lightweight and way too under-incentivised to hold out all afternoon. Even so, the visitors had not done a bad job by the time that Nasri looked up from his umpteenth possession on the edge of the West Ham area and elected to sweep a shot past Adrian, who might have done better, and into the far corner.

Vincent Kompany (right) celebrates his goal with Yaya Toure Vincent Kompany (right) celebrates his goal with Yaya Toure In midfield Toure was superb, his dominance epitomised by the moment he chased down Mohamed Diame and heaved the Senegalese midfielder off the ball. David Silva, the lock-picker of opposition defences, hit the post in time added on at the end of the first half with a shot that bounced off Andy Carroll.

That second goal was coming and it arrived from a City corner that Carroll got into a muddle trying to clear and ended up sending back towards his own goal where Kompany could pick his spot. From then on it was simple. Sergio Aguero, quiet by his high standards, kicked out at Mark Noble off the ball which precipitated more indignation from the West Ham players than we had seen all afternoon.

One more City goal would have equalled the Premier League record for goals scored in a season, set by Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea in 2009-2010 but even so 102 for the season is not a bad total. In defence of Carroll, he needs a cross to head from time-to-time and it was hard to remember a single one being launched in his direction. Up against the second most famous ponytail in the Premier League, sported by Martin Demichelis, he encountered an opponent who was up for a scrap.

If this is to be Sam Allardyce’s last game in charge of the Hammers then it was not a fond farewell. They finish 13th, seven points clear of relegation, in a season when the clean sheets they have kept have been their manager’s greatest source of pride. When there is no clean sheet then one finds oneself struggling to count the alternative qualities. When a long ball on 69 minutes failed to stick to Carroll’s toe on 69 minutes, and rolled out of play all hope was lost.

He brought on Joe Cole at the end of the game, more than likely his last game in a West Ham shirt for the second time around. News of the goals from Liverpool came through but by then, the away team had shut down for the season and City were on their way to the second league title in three years. After the celebrations, some of the players and their families were still on the pitch long after 6pm having pictures taken with the trophy as the groundsmen began clearing the streamers off the pitch

Joe Hart was one of the last off before the trophy finally disappeared down the tunnel and the last few supporters went home. It has not always been a straightforward season for the City goalkeeper but when you win league titles, a lot gets forgotten. City have won it now under two managers and they will be part of the elite for a long time to come. It felt like the wrong time to mention that Uefa’s sanctions over financial fair play are delivered tomorrow, which is a challenge al lot more formidable than that presented by West Ham.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov; Nasri, Toure (Negredo, 86), Garcia, Silva (Milner, 75); Aguero, Dzeko (Fernandinho, 69).

Substitutes not used: Pantilimon (gk), Lescott, Clichy, Jovetic.

West Ham (4-5-1): Adrian; McCartney, Reid, Tomkins, O’Brien; Downing, Noble, Nolan (Jarvis, 64), Taylor, Diame  (J Cole, 81); Carroll  (C Cole, 72).

Substitutes not used: Armero, Vaz Te, Collins, Jaaskelainen (gk).

Referee: M Atkinson

Man of the match: Nasri

Booked: Manchester City Demichelis, Aguero West Ham Nolan, Noble

Rating: 6/10

Suggested Topics
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
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

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering