Man City 1-0 West Ham: Sergio Aguero penalty seals narrow win over dogged Hammers
Report and highlights as City remain a point off Liverpool at the top
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 28/02/19 6:38am
Manchester City remain a point behind Liverpool in the Premier League title race after a Sergio Aguero penalty secured them a 1-0 victory over West Ham at the Etihad Stadium.
Pep Guardiola's side were far from their fluent best against a dogged West Ham team on Manuel Pellegrini's first return to his former club.
Andy Carroll came close to breaking the deadlock five minutes into the second half as Ederson made a fine save from point-blank range, before Felipe Anderson was penalised for bringing down substitute Bernardo Silva inside the penalty area just shy of the hour-mark.
Aguero stepped up and struck his 18th Premier League goal of the season to the relief of the home fans, and ensure City remain on the coat-tails of Jurgen Klopp's side, who beat Watford 5-0 at Anfield on Wednesday night. West Ham stay in 10th place.
Man City: Ederson (7), Danilo (7), Kompany (6), Otamendi (6), Zinchenko (6), Gundogan (7), De Bruyne (7), D. Silva (6), Mahrez (5), Sane (5), Aguero (7).
Subs: Sterling (6), Bernardo (7), Foden (6)
West Ham: Fabianski (7), Johnson (7), Fredericks (8), Ogbonna (7), Diop (7), Rice (7), Obiang (6), Antonio (7), Nasri (5), Anderson (6), Carroll (7).
Subs: Zabaleta (6), Lanzini (6), Diangana (n/a)
Man of the match: Ryan Fredericks
City began brightly and might have scored three times in the opening five minutes. Kevin De Bruyne received Aguero's pass 25 yards out and fired a crisp right-footed shot a yard wide of the post before Riyad Mahrez skied David Silva's cross from close range.
Moments later, De Bruyne was involved once more as his cut-back found David Silva, but the Spaniard's shot cannoned back off Lukasz Fabianski's right-hand post.
At that point, it appeared as though it would be a long night for the Hammers but, with the impressive Ben Johnson making his senior debut at left-back, Pellegrini's side warmed to their task and were rarely troubled for the remainder of the opening period.
Walker, Sterling and Bernardo dropped to the substitutes' bench. Laporte and Fernandinho were sidelined through injury making it five changes. Danilo, Kompany, Gundogan, David Silva, Mahrez and Sane all started.
West Ham also made five changes as Carroll captained the side with Noble on the bench, while Nasri was handed a start on his return to City. Zabaleta had to make do with a place on the bench.
Guardiola had cut a frustrated figure, with his angst largely directed towards Mahrez on his return to the starting line-up and the mood inside the Etihad was not helped by the news of Liverpool comfortably leading Watford.
City had 11 attempts during the first-half but only one came on target - a shot from Mahrez that was straight at Fabianski - and they might have fallen behind when Carroll met substitute Manuel Lanzini's cross but Ederson flew to his right to keep out the striker's shot.
Guardiola rolled the dice by introducing Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva, and the latter made the difference as a tired challenge from Felipe Anderson drew the penalty in front of referee Stuart Attwell.
Aguero kept his cool to slot home his seventh goal in three home Premier League games as City controlled the final 30 minutes without threatening to stretch their advantage.
Man of the match - Ryan Fredericks
While City dominated possession, Pellegrini will be delighted with how his West Ham side restricted their opponents to a one-goal victory courtesy of the penalty spot.
After withstanding an early onslaught, the performance of Ryan Fredericks at right-back eventually forced Guardiola into a re-think as the dejected Leroy Sane was hauled off in place of Bernardo.
Fredericks replaced Zabaleta in the second period against Fulham, and he hasn't looked back. His final ball going forward still requires improvement, but he did everything that was asked of him defensively.
With more determined displays like this, he could make the position his own in the final 10 games of the season.
Pep Guardiola: "They made us work hard for the result but we played incredibly well. We created a lot of chances, so it's amazing to understand how it was just 1-0 and in the last minute, anything can happen.
"In the first five minutes, it could've been 2-0 easily. The longer it stays at 0-0 or 1-0 the more impatient you become but in general we defended so well.
"With the long balls to Carroll and to [Michail] Antonio we applied ourselves very well and created a lot of chances. Unfortunately, we couldn't score more goals, after the 120 minutes against Chelsea, the team showed incredible spirit and we made a really good performance."
Manuel Pellegrini: "We lost to a penalty that was not a penalty. In the other box, maybe if Lanzini goes to the floor then maybe he can whistle. They had other chances after the penalty, but we ultimately lost to it so I'm unhappy.
"Apart from the first 10 minutes, we defended well. I think if you review the match, Lukasz Fabianski only made one or two saves. I think the penalty was the first risk that he had on his goal.
"We defended well but we didn't look after the ball well enough. Considering that we have eight players injured, and four players that we rested, of course I can't be very unhappy with the result."
- Manchester City have won each of their last seven games against West Ham in all competitions, netting 23 goals while conceding just three.
- West Ham are now winless in their last 18 Premier League away games against 'big six' opposition (D6 L12).
- Manchester City have won 16 of their last 17 home games in all competitions, only losing to Crystal Palace in a league game in December (2-3).
- Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero has been directly involved in 74 goals (59 goals and 15 assists) in 80 Premier League appearances since Pep Guardiola took over in August 2016 - only Harry Kane has been directly involved in more in that time (87).
- Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko has been on the winning side in each of his first 13 Premier League appearances (11 starts), the longest run of wins from the start of a player's career in the competition's history.
- Manuel Pellegrini is winless in his last five away league games as manager, his longest run without a win on the road in a single Premier League season since December 2015 when he was Manchester City manager.
- Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has more top-flight league wins against Manuel Pellegrini (9) than he does any other opposition manager.
- Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has won all seven of his meetings with West Ham in all competitions. The only side he has met more often while maintaining a 100% win rate is Malaga, who he has beaten eight times, including four games while they were managed by Manuel Pellegrini.
Manchester City travel to face Bournemouth on Saturday at 3pm while West Ham host Newcastle later that day (kick-off: 5.30pm).