City too slick

Manchester City 3-1 West Ham United

West Ham United went down to a spirited 3-1 Barclays Premier League loss at Manchester City on Monday evening.

The Hammers, without the injured Matthew Upson, Valon Behrami and Jack Collison, fought hard at Eastlands, but were eventually undone by the big-spending Citizens.

Two goals from former Boleyn Ground hero Carlos Tevez sandwiched a Martin Petrov free-kick, with West Ham's goal coming courtesy of a neat Carlton Cole finish.

The visitors had their moments in front of a 42,745-strong crowd, but Gianfranco Zola's side were just unable to match one managed by his former Chelsea strike-partner Mark Hughes.

The home side controlled the majority of the game, with the ex-Hammers pairing of Tevez and Craig Bellamy, and the elusive left-winger Petrov, very much to the fore.

Bellamy occupied centre-backs James Tomkins and Manuel Da Costa with his pace and trickery, while the diminutive Tevez dropped deep repeatedly to pick up possession from his midfield cohorts.

It took just five minutes for the plan to come to fruition, with Tevez the scorer. Gareth Barry sent Petrov clear down the left, the Bulgarian hit the byline before rolling the ball into the path of the Argentinean, who could not miss from five yards.

For a while after they had taken the lead, it appeared as if the floodgates would open for City, but West Ham held firm.

Robert Green saved well from Wayne Bridge before Tevez ended a neat short-corner routine by lifting a shot just a foot wide of the post.

City were purring, and Tevez came close again on the quarter-hour mark, driving a shot over to climax a flowing move involving Pablo Zabaleta, Nigel de Jong, Barry, Bridge and Petrov.

West Ham were creaking, but they refused to buckle, and were rewarded for their application with an equaliser on 24 minutes.

The industrious Noble was pulled back by Shaun Wright-Phillips 35 yards from goal, allowing Alessandro Diamanti to curl a vicious free-kick into the home penalty area. Joleon Lescott's header fell to Radoslav Kovac, whose low strike was diverted into the bottom corner by an alert Cole.

The equaliser gave the Hammers an immediate shot of confidence, and Cole could have put them ahead with a powerful downward header from Julien Faubert's right-wing cross, only for Shay Given to deny him with a smart stop.

Unfortunately for the visitors, the wind was taken out of their sails just when it looked like they were getting up a head of steam in the shape of a Petrov free-kick. Luis Jimenez was penalised for a nudge on Zabaleta, and the winger did the rest, curling the ball around the wall and into Green's bottom right-hand corner.

Ahead for a second time, City went looking for a third, only for England's No1 Green to deny both Tevez and Bellamy as the opening half came to a close.

No doubt inspired by a rousing team-talk from Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke, West Ham started the second 45 minutes on the front foot, forcing a succession of corners before Jimenez saw a powerful shot blocked by Lescott.

All the good work was undone just after the hour-mark, though, when Tevez was left unmarked to head Bellamy's free-kick past Green from close-range.

West Ham refused to give in, and Noble saw a shot well saved before Diamanti tested the Republic of Ireland stopper with a well-struck first-time shot after exchanging passes with the former England Under-21 captain.

Zola sent on home-grown youngsters Junior Stanislas and Zavon Hines in an attempt to keep up the pressure on City, but despite their endeavour, West Ham were unable to force a way back into the match.

The manager will be hoping for better, and the return of some of his injured stars, when Fulham visit the Boleyn Ground on Sunday.

Manchester City: Given, Zabaleta, Lescott, Toure, Bridge, Wright-Phillips (Santa Cruz 80), Barry (Johnson 89), de Jong, Petrov, Tevez, Bellamy
Subs not used: Taylor, Richards, Garrido, Sylvinho, Weiss

West Ham United: Green, Faubert, Da Costa, Tomkins, Ilunga, Noble, Parker, Kovac (Stanislas 71), Jimenez (Hines 71), Diamanti, Cole
Subs not used: Kurucz, Spector, 'Gala, Payne, Nouble