Man City overpowers West Ham to take title
MANCHESTER–Goals from Samir Nasri and skipper Vincent Kompany saw Manchester City to a 2-0 win over West Ham as they claimed their second Premier League title in three seasons.
Sunday’s final day of the league season victory at City’s Eastlands ground crowned a triumphant first English campaign in charge for Manuel Pellegrini, the Chilean manager celebrating his first domestic championship in Europe.
Winners of the League Cup earlier in the year, City added the championship in fairly routine fashion.
While City’s main challengers Liverpool faltered in the past two weeks—notably in losing at home to Chelsea and squandering a three-goal lead to draw at Crystal Palace—the unflappable Pellegrini ensured his club kept their composure, culminating in Sunday’s victory over Sam Allardyce’s Hammers.
By the time Nasri shot City into a 40th minute lead, the pressure around Eastlands had already been lifted considerably with the surprise news from Anfield that Liverpool had fallen behind to Newcastle.
That left Pellegrini’s team in the position of potentially being able to lose to West Ham and still regain the title they won so memorably on the final day of the season in 2012.
Nonetheless, defeat seemed highly unlikely with City enjoying 75 percent of the possession prior to the opening goal.
Inevitably, City made the pressure count before the half-time whistle as Yaya Toure played a short ball to Nasri and the visiting defenders showed a rare lapse in concentration by backing off the midfielder.
That invited the France international to attempt a shot, which Nasri duly did, producing a sweetly-struck right-foot effort which flew in via the left-hand post and a slight touch from diving goalkeeper Adrian.
As they had done in securing a vital midweek victory over Aston Villa, City showed admirable patience prior to Nasri’s strike, prodding and probing at the opposition’s defence without offering them any hope on the counter-attack.
It took until the 18th minute for Sergio Aguero, recalled after a lengthy injury lay-off, to test Adrian with a 25-yard shot which was comfortably saved and, just as news filtered through of the opening goal at Anfield, Toure’s curling shot just missed the target from the edge of the area.
Aleksandar Kolarov’s spectacular 30-yard attempt was tipped over acrobatically by Adrian and Aguero showed nimble footwork on the by-line only for his drag-back to be skied over the target by Edin Dzeko from six yards.
After the goal, Aguero’s glancing header flew just wide and David Silva’s shot was deflected onto the bar as City sought to ensure they enjoyed an anxiety-free second half.
Ultimately, it required only four minutes of that second period for City to kill off the contest and ensure their 17th home victory in 19 league games this season.
Nasri’s left-wing corner was met by Dzeko who neatly twisted to turn the ball goalwards, directly into the path of Kompany, who swept the ball in from six yards.
Matt Taylor’s shot from the edge of the City area was well off target as City goalkeeper Joe Hart awaited his first save of the match but, as news came through that Liverpool had equalised in their game, it was merely a question of by how many Pellegrini’s team would win their title-decider.
Aguero headed just wide from a Pablo Zabaleta cross, Silva’s shot was deflected behind and Aguero mishit from six yards after another Zabaleta centre when it appeared easier to convert into the gaping West Ham goal.
The closing minutes entered practice match territory, although Adrian was required to save smartly with his feet to block a close-range shot from Nasri.
Finally, West Ham showed some fire, but in the incorrect manner, as a minor scuffle between players from both teams in the final minute ended with Aguero and Mark Noble both being cautioned for a needless clash.—Ian Whittell
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