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West Ham United 2-2 Manchester City

Filed: Saturday, 23rd January 2016
By: Staff Writer

West Ham were eight minutes away from completing the double over Manchester City before Sergio Aguero's late strike earned the visitors a share of the spoils.

In a pulsating Premier League affair, West Ham took the lead through Enner Valencia within 60 seconds - before Aguero levelled for the Citizens seven minutes later from the penalty spot.

And although West Ham regained the lead midway through the second half with the Ecuador international's second of the game, his opposite number matched his feat with just six minutes of normal time remaining to earn City a share of the spoils.

Many fans were still making their way to their seats when Valencia opened the scoring with just 53 seconds on the clock. Cheik Kouyate, back to his best today surged down the inside left channel before squaring the ball.

Only half blocked, his cross fell to the Ecuador international some 10 yards from goal who fired underneath a helpless Joe Hart - whose first task of the game was to pick the ball out of his net.

It took the visitors, hot on the heels of surprise Premier League front-runners Leicester City just six minutes to find a reply - and that came moments after the ever-dangerous Sergio Aguero had hit the post, after cleverly lobbing Adrian from an acute angle.

Carl Jenkinson, restored to the team after a couple of decent appearances from the bench tripped the tricky Argentine inside the box; Aguero dusted himself down and sent Adrian the wrong way from the spot, to level the scores once again. Jenkinson, with left peg and pride equally injured was to be replaced moments later by new signing Sam Byram.

The Hammers, who were always the stronger team - yet also the second-most clinical - went mightily close to regaining the lead with 33 minutes on the clock when Dimitri Payet's perfectly-placed free kick produced a stunning save from England's Joe Hart.

West Ham's latest poster boy was eager to please an adoring public and some of his footwork was a joy to watch, perhaps some of the very best we've ever seen, as he tricked, teased and tantalised City's Superstars®. At 28, Payet may already be at his creative zenith but he, as much as Slaven Bilic even, has been the catalyst for the positive feeling surrounding the club - and its supporters - presently.

United - and Payet, naturally - opened the second half in similar stirring fashion and Michail Antonio grazed the wrong side of the post when presented with a free header from Mark Noble's deep cross five minutes after the restart.

Five minutes later and it was City's turn to rattle United's woodwork, as Fabian Delph's shot beat Adrian - but not the post. Byram, playing like a seasoned pro on his debut may not have known much about it, but a slight deflection via his trailing foot was probably the difference between the woodwork intervening and the Citizens going ahead.

Pellegrini's side were still reflecting on a good chance gone begging when they found themselves behind for the second time in the game, as West Ham broke from the resulting play.

Antonio's quick throw - the kind of which we used to deride Stoke's Rory Delap for - was hurled into the penalty area from afar and met by the alert Valencia, who got ahead of marker Otimendi and stabbed it beyond a surprised Hart from the edge of the six-yard area - as much of the crowd refrained from celebrating immediately, presumably awaiting for the officials to rule it out!

That should have been good enough to secure successive victories against City this season, but that man Aguero was to have different ideas. With West Ham's centre exposed, the visitors surged forward and an unfortunate touch from Aaron Cresswell put the ball on a plate for the City striker who restored parity for a second occasion.

That was that as far as goals were concerned but there was still time for West Ham to level the 'hitting the woodwork' tally too. Deep into injury time Kouyate's header beat Hart but not the bar, hence each team had to settle for a point. Which, on balance of play, was probably the right result.

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