Manchester City continued their Premier League title charge as they recorded a 20th straight win in all competitions with a 2-1 victory over high-flying West Ham at the Etihad Stadium.
The hosts started slowly but stole in front on 30 minutes when Ruben Dias nodded in his first Citizens goal from Kevin de Bruyne’s sublime right-wing cross.
West Ham’s gameplan to frustrate the league leaders shifted in the latter part of the half and they got their reward prior to the interval when Michail Antonio touched home Jesse Lingard’s shot. It was the first goal City had conceded on home turf since December 15.
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Pep Guardiola had handed a first Premier League start since October to record scorer, Sergio Aguero, but he struggled to make an impact before being substituted just past the hour.
Instead, it was left to another centre back to steer City back on the path to victory as John Stones calmly guided a first-time strike into the far corner from Riyad Mahrez’s pass 22 minutes from time.
The result sees Pep Guardiola’s men move 13 points clear at the summit with nearest rivals Manchester United and Leicester City facing tricky encounters on Sunday. West Ham remain fourth.
Next up, City host Wolves on Tuesday prior to a crunch Manchester derby at home to United on Sunday. West Ham are not in action until Monday March 8, when they host Leeds United.
The City juggernaut surges on. A third league title in four seasons looks all-but in the bag after a hard-fought success against the in-form Hammers. Guardiola made seven changes from the side that won in the Champions League in midweek and although this was far from City’s top gear, they still had enough in their locker to pick up the points once again.
Much has been made of City’s solid defence this term with Dias and Stones receiving deserved praise for helping to lay a foundation for this sensational run of form. On this occasion, they shipped a rare goal but made up for it in style with a goal apiece. The dynamic duo have scored five and conceded just three goals in the 16 games they have started together, which is a truly superb record. Indeed, such is City's overall strength that the talk of a 'quadruple' will once again gather pace in the weeks ahead.
As for West Ham, they will be disappointed to leave empty-handed after a display that had plenty of positives to bolster their claim as realistic challengers for a Champions League spot.
MAN OF THE MATCH
John Stones (Man City). The defender’s resurgence continues with another accomplished display. He looks composed and firmly at home next to Dias, who was also a strong contender for this award. Stones struck the winner and now has four goals in all competitions this season, with all of them coming in 2021.
MAN CITY: Ederson 6, Walker 7, Dias 8, Stones 8, Zinchenko 7, Gundogan 7, Fernandinho 8, Mahrez 7, De Bruyne 8, Torres 6, Aguero 6. Subs: Jesus 6, Foden 6, Rodri n/a.
WEST HAM: Randolph 6, Johnson 6, Coufal 7, Dawson 7, Diop 7, Cresswell 7, Soucek 7, Rice 7, Lingard 7, Fornals 6, Antonio 7. Subs: Benrahma n/a, Bowen n/a.
30’ - GOAL! – Man City 1-0 West Ham. Dias is left free to race in at the far post and head De Bruyne's raking right-wing cross into the net. That was a sensational delivery from the Belgian.
39’ – WEST HAM CHANCE! Antonio collects a dangerous right-wing cross but sees his bouncing shot clip the outside of the post.
43’ - GOAL! – Man City 1-1 West Ham. The Hammers are level. Coufal marauds into the right side of the area and cuts it back for Lingard. The forward's shot flies towards the far post where Antonio pounces to divert it home.
58’ – MAN CITY CHANCE! KDB charges down the left. He skips beyond a challenge and races to the byline. He lays it into the six-yard box, but no City shirt can get there to apply a finish.
68’ - GOAL! – Man City 2-1 West Ham. Stones lashes a fine first-time shot into the far corner after a clever run and touch back from Mahrez.
90+4’ – WEST HAM CHANCE! Diop meets Lingard's delightful cross from the right but can't guide his header on target.
- No player has more Premier League assists this season than Kevin De Bruyne (11 - level with Harry Kane).
- Antonio became the first opposing player to score a goal from open play against Man City at Etihad Stadium in 12 PL games since Leicester’s James Maddison on September 27.
- Antonio is the first West Ham player to score home and away against Man City in a league season since Iain Dowie in 1995-96.
- City conceded their first Premier League goal at the Etihad since 15th December against West Brom, ending their run of 629 minutes without conceding on home soil in the competition.
- No Premier League defender has scored more goals in all competitions this season than Stones (4).
- In what was just his 273rd game in charge of Manchester City, Pep Guardiola picked up his 200th victory with the Citizens – the fewest games needed by a manager of an English top-flight side to reach 200 wins in all competitions. It was also Guardiola's 500th win in charge of a top-flight side in all competitions (Barcelona 179 wins, FC Bayern Munich 121, Manchester City 200).
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