Manchester City 3 West Ham United 1
Sunday, 28th August 2016
by Staff Writer
There were to be no repeats of last season's heroics as West Ham were soundly beaten by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium this afternoon.Slaven Bilic's side - whose only win so far this season was last weekend's 1-0 victory against Bournemouth - fell to a fourth competitive defeat following reversals against NK Domzale, Chelsea and Astra Giurgiu.
And although the Hammers briefly rallied in the second half after a desperately poor start, which left them two goals behind after just 18 minutes, Michail Antonio's second half header proved to be mere consolation as Rahim Sterling restored City's two-goal advantage in added-on time.
The former Liverpool winger, who was one of those heavily criticised for England's appalling Euro 16 campaign has been in excellent form since returning from France and opened his account after just seven minutes, when finishing from close range with United's defence mere bystanders.
And when Fernandinho doubled the hosts' advantage 11 minutes later from a set-piece, with West Ham caught flat-footed once again, travelling Hammers fans were fearing the prospect of another drubbing similar to that experienced here in the first leg of the 2013 Carling Cup semi final.
Fortunately a repeat of that 6-0 scoreline failed to materialise, although the hosts certainly created enough opportunities to . City registered a total of 22 shots during the game but crucially, only five on target - credit, in part, to a galvanised defensive effort following Fernandinho's goal.
One shining light in that defence was new signing Arthur Masuaku, who once again gave a good account of himself. Hugely missed on Thursday night against Astra, a game for which he was Cup-tied, the French full back was involved in Antonio's goal - another header - which arrived just shy of the hour mark.
Having moved into an advanced position on the left, Masuaku centred perfectly for the former Forest man, lurking with intent at the far post. With goalkeeper Willy Caballero beaten by the pace of the cross, Antonio rose to plant his header firmly in the back of the net.
The goal gave West Ham renewed hope of snatching an unlikely point, but City always looked the more threatening and it was they who added the final goal of the game in the second minute of added-on time through the much-maligned Stirling, who rounded Adrian before finishing from an acute angle.
Yet again there was more controversy for Slaven Bilic to deal with after the game, after TV cameras caught City's Sergio Aguero appearing to deliberately elbow United's Winston Reid - an offence missed by referee Andre Marriner, but one likely to cause the FA to sit up and take notice retrospectively.
Sergio Aguero elbowing Winston Reid. Disgusting. pic.twitter.com/qdr3gXAxQ1?EUR" Uber West Ham (@UberWestHam) August 28, 2016
Not that that will help Bilic and his squad, who were similarly hard done by when Chelsea's Diego Costa somehow avoided a second caution for raking Adrian's shin during the opening game of the campaign at Stamford Bridge earlier this month, before going on to score a last-minute winning goal.
The manager will no doubt also face a string of questions from the media regarding the whereabouts of Diitri Payet, who was said to have sustained "a knock" during that defeat at Chelsea, reported thereafter by Bilic to be fit for the Astra game - but still nowhere to be seen.
West Ham Utd: Adrian, Collins, Reid (Calleri 78), Ogbonna, Antonio, Noble, Kouyate, Tore (Byram 46), Masuaku, Valencia (Lanzini 60), Fletcher.
Subs not used: Randolph, Obiang, Burke, Oxford.
Goals: Antonio (58).
Booked: Masuaku, Fletcher, Noble.
Shots (on/off target): 9 (2/7).
Manchester City: Cabellero, Zabaleta, Stones (Kolarov 59), Otamendi, Clichy, Fernandinho, Silva, De Bruyne, Nolito (Nasri 75), Sterling, Aguero (Fernando 88).
Subs not used: Hart, Navas, Delph, Iheanacho.
Goals: Sterling (7, 90+2), Fernandinho (18).
Shots (on/off target): 22 (5/17).
Referee: Andre Marriner.
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Player RatingsDarren Randolph
Rarely called into action but more than capable when asked to do so. A nice easy start to the season for one of the RoI's Euro 16 heroes.
Looked accomplished at full back tonight, as he had very little defending to do. Sterner tests will follow for Antonio, as will the inevitable qeustions regarding his suitability for the role.
Sam endured a torried time in the first leg so it was pleasing to see him put in a solid performance tonight in an unfamiliar position.
Calm, assured and willing to put the boot in when required - just what you want from a centre half.
Another youngster to shine on the big night. The Ox was an able partner to the more experienced Reid but also capable of turning defence into attack with some delightful flighted dellveries.
Another player making his debut, the Norwegian had a fairly quiet first half but came alive in the second. He also showed some lovely footwork as the game reached its closing stages; another impressive start.
A classy performance from a very important player. Payet and Noble drew the plaudits last season but it was Kouyate that kept the midfield ticking over. Tonight he takes the acclaim for two goals that steered West Ham into the next round of the competition.
Solid and combative as per usual, his most notable contribution was the superb delivery for Feghouli's goal. Should be a shoo-in for Allarduce's next squad, at this rate.
The big man put himself about well and played an important role in both of Kouyate's goals. He still seems a little of the pace, thought that's not unusual at this stage of the season.
An impressive start for the winger, who may well have taken the Man of the Match award were it not for Kouyate's two-goal haul. He ran at Domzale's defence all night and was finally rewarded with a goal that sealed the win.
Whilst you can certainly question the ability, there can be no doubt that Valencia gave 100 per cent for West Ham tonight - the sort of attitude his former striker partner would do well to take note of.
Long linked with a move away from the club but given a positive reception upon his introduction by the crowd. Another who seems determined to work through his difficulties.
A nice little two-minute caneo to introduce him to the West Ham family.
See above, just for half the time...
Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Match FactsWest Ham United: Darren Randolph, Michail Antonio, Sam Byram, Winston Reid, Reece Oxford, Havard Nordtveit, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Andy Carroll, Sofiane Feghouli, Enner Valencia.
Goals: Cheikhou Kouyate 8 Cheikhou Kouyate 22 Sofiane Feghouli 81 .
Booked: Michail Antonio Sofiane Feghouli Enner Valencia .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Manchester City: Marava, Brachi, Dobrovoljc, Horic, Balkovec, Morel, Horvat, Majer, Crnic, Alvir, Mance.
Subs not used: Milic, Vetrih, Repas, Blazic.
Booked: Crnic, Balkovec, Horic.
Sent off: None.
Referee: Fredy Fautrel.
Man of the Match: Cheikhou Kouyate.