Collison poise downs City

Jack Collison struck the only goal of the game to give West Ham United a vital victory over Manchester City and move the club up to seventh place in the Barclays Premier League.

Before the game much of the talk was about Craig Bellamy's return but, on St David's Day, it was his Wales team-mate Collison that stole the post-match headlines with his 70th-minute winner. The win was a welcome tonic after the midweek FA Cup exit but was marred by a serious-looking first-half left-leg injury to Valon Behrami that required extensive treatment and saw him taken to hospital.

For the Sunday lunchtime sell-out, Gianfranco Zola had made two changes from the defeat at Middlesbrough with Collison in for the suspended Mark Noble and David Di Michele replacing Freddie Sears who dropped to the bench. Also among the replacements was 18-year-old midfielder Josh Payne, alongside the 19-year-old winger Junior Stanislas.

City were without the suspended Shaun Wright-Phillips, while further forward Bellamy was to play just over an hour before making way for Elano with a knee knock. Far more serious was the 38th-minute injury to Behrami who appeared to catch his leg in the turf and required extensive treatment before being carried off to a standing ovation.

In truth, the first half saw limited opportunities for both teams. Jack Collison and David Di Michele had the best of the Hammers' moments with a couple of low shots after well-worked moves while Robinho's flicked effort on 15 minutes forced a tremendous save by Robert Green. The big-money Brazilian then poked the ball just wide seven minutes later from barely six yards out.

Referee Mike Dean was also busy - booking Scott Parker and Radoslav Kovac in the early exchanges while Vincent Kompany also had his name taken. The caution did not trouble Parker, who was to prove among the brightest performers on the pitch with an industrious box-to-box display that showed just why City tried unsuccessfully to prise him away from the Boleyn Ground at the turn of the year.

The second half burst into life when Savio - wearing the No10 shirt vacated by Bellamy, who was now receiving treatment back in the dressing room - cut inside from the left on to his favoured right foot and fired in a fierce shot. Given saved but could only parry the ball to Collison who expertly hooked the ball into the net.

City tried to find a way back into the contest, with Felipe Caicedo, who had replaced Micah Richards as early as the 15th minute, firing into the side-netting and over the bar either side of a Robinho effort that was blasted wide. Zola made his second change with eight minutes to play by replacing home debutant Kovac with Jonathan Spector.

Walter Lopez then made his first league appearance for the final four minutes as Zola's men saw out the closing stages in relative comfort. Hughes took off Nigel De Jong for striker Valeri Bojinov before Elano's goalbound free-kick was flicked by the inspirational Neill away to safety. Up into seventh position, Zola's men can push on when they go to Wigan Athletic, the team they have leapfroggged, on Wednesday.