Manchester City extended their record-breaking winning run to a 20th game, beating West Ham 2-1 at the Etihad as their march towards the Premier League title continues.
The two sides came into the games as the two most in-form clubs in the division; Man City holding a 10 point advantage at the top of the table having won their last 19 successive games, while West Ham had made a charge into the top four.
West Ham looked content to sit back and try to hit the league leaders on the break, with David Moyes’ side looking well drilled as they challenged City to break them down.
While they looked difficult to play through, City would find a way to take the lead after just half an hour. Kevin de Bruyne pinged an absolute beauty of a ball into the West Ham box with his apparently weaker left peg, the ball being met by Ruben Dias at the back post as the Portuguese powered his header past Darren Randolph.
West Ham wasted a chance to equalise five minutes before the interval, Michail Antonio sending a shot wide of the post following a cross from Jesse Lingard. Just minutes later though and the Hammers did haul themselves level, Antonio making amends for his miss as he poked home at the back post after Lingard had scuffed an effort from a Coufal cross.
City came out with a bit more intensity after the break, and regained the lead in the 68th minute, Riyad Mahrez taking on his man down the right, cutting the ball back into box before it was swept home by the unlikely figure of John Stones, the Barnsley Beckenbauer enjoying a rich vein of goalscoring form since the New Year.
John Stones until 2020:
193 games, 1 goal
John Stones in 2021:
9 games, 3 goals
2021 is John Stones' year. pic.twitter.com/4YtsqPA7v8
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 27, 2021
West Ham were unable to create too much in the second half as City had far more control, though the Hammers did squander a 94th minute chance to draw level once more, an Issa Diop header drifting wide and just out of the reach of Tomas Soucek at the back post.
Speaking afterwards, Pep Guardiola said his side were ‘lucky’ to get all three points against David Moyes’ ‘difficult’ side’.
“It was really difficult,” he told BT Sport. “They have the physicality. They have the quality of players in Lingard, Fornals.
“After 10-15 minutes today we realise we are not going to paint anything beautiful. Second half we were much better than the first half. When you play a lot of games, in the league and then the Champions League, this is normal.
“We were lucky to get all three points. The mathematics matter at the end of the season.”
Next up for Manchester City is an away trip to face Wolverhampton Wanderers in midweek before they host current runners up and Manchester rivals, Man Utd next weekend.