Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Manchester City got their title defence up and running in style with a 5-0 win at West Ham, in a game where VAR made its first impact in the Premier League.
City's new No 9 Gabriel Jesus showed deadly instinct to open the scoring with a near-post touch from Kyle Walker's fine work down the right (25), and the champions were 2-0 up shortly after half-time through Sterling's tidy finish (51).
- As it happened
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The season's first major VAR call came minutes later as Jesus' tap-in was ruled out by a marginal offside call on Sterling (53), but after another tight VAR call, Sterling grabbed his second and City's third, lobbing Lukasz Fabianski inside the box (75).
Sub Sergio Aguero then netted City's fourth from the spot (86) at the second attempt after VAR ruled for a retake for his initial missed penalty due to encroachment, before Sterling wrapped up his hat-trick in stoppage time (90+2).
How City responded to Liverpool win
Just hours after Liverpool's 4-1 win over Norwich on Friday Night Football, City were at their blistering best.
It started slowly, but the champions eventually moved through the gears at London Stadium. Riyad Mahrez forced Lukasz Fabianski into a fine low save with a 20-yard effort, before hitting the side-netting from 12 yards after superbly turning onto his left foot.
Sergio Aguero started the Premier League season on the bench for Manchester City, with Gabriel Jesus preferred up top. Bernardo Silva was also on the bench as Rodri made his Premier League debut. John Stones was preferred to Nicolas Otamendi, while new signing Joao Cancelo made the bench.
For West Ham, Sebastien Haller made his debut after his £40m move from Eintracht Frankfurt, while fellow new signing Pablo Fornals was on the bench.
With Aguero on the bench, Jesus took his chance well for the opener, but it all came from Walker's pace. Overlapping on the right, Walker centred for Jesus, who neatly found the net at the near post after a slight touch off Issa Diop.
City got their two-goal cushion after the break as Kevin De Bruyne fed Sterling through on goal, prompting a low finish under Fabianski from inside the box.
The visitors thought they'd grabbed a third just two minutes later as Sterling squared for Jesus to simply tap home, but the VAR showed Sterling was offside from David Silva's initial pass by a matter of millimetres.
West Ham: Fabianski (6), Fredericks (5), Balbuena (5), Diop (5), Cresswell (4), Wilshere (4), Rice (5), Antonio (4), Lanzini (5), Anderson (4), Haller (6)
Subs: Fornals (5), Snodgrass (6), Chicharito (5)
Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (7), Stones (8), Laporte (8), Zinchenko (8), David Silva (8), Rodri (7), De Bruyne (8), Sterling (9), Mahrez (9), Jesus (8)
Subs: Aguero (7), Gundogan (NA), Foden (NA)
Man of the match: Raheem Sterling
Ederson made a fine double save - first from Chicharito and then from Michail Antonio at close range - to prevent a nervy finish, and City piled on as Sterling's side-footed dink over Fabianski made it 3-0. VAR briefly intervened, looking at Mahrez's fine through ball over the defence, but Sterling was this time onside by millimetres.
Issa Diop's clumsy foul on Mahrez in the box allowed City a chance to grab a fourth; Sterling wanted it, but sub Aguero stepped up, only to see his penalty saved by Fabianski. But after another VAR review adjudged that Declan Rice, who got to the ball to clear after the save, had encroached, it was retaken, allowing Aguero to score.
Sterling got his hat-trick in the final seconds, however, converting while one-on-one again from Mahrez's rolled through ball.
Anything Liverpool can do, City can do better, was the clear message as City showed no signs of complacency in their hunt for a third straight title.
How VAR made its impact
- 54 mins - At 2-0, Sterling receives David Silva's ball and squares for Jesus to tap home, but it goes to VAR. The 3D lines used by VAR finds Sterling is inches offside. Goal disallowed.
- 75 mins - At 2-0, Sterling dinks over Fabianski from Mahrez's through ball. It goes to VAR, and the 3D lines this time show Sterling to be millimetres onside. Goal stands.
- 82 mins - At 3-0, City are awarded a clear penalty as Diop fouled Mahrez. Aguero's kick was saved, but VAR ordered a re-take because Rice encroached. Rice had touched the ball first after Fabianski's saved, therefore had an impact. Aguero scores the retaken kick.
- 90 mins - All VAR reviews were quick, meaning five minutes were added on, a fair number given the four goals and five substitutions.
Man of the match - Raheem Sterling
This was Sterling at his deadliest best again.
A constant attacking threat, even when things weren't going his way, the City man was first to harry the West Ham defence.
His finish under Fabianski for his first was cool, and though his second will be quickly forgotten in the chaos of the game, not many would try a lob over the goalkeeper from that position. Could Sterling hit 20 Premier League goals for the first time this season?
Manuel Pellegrini: "As a manager it is difficult to say you are not happy in the way we worked, especially with how we played in the first 45 minutes. There was not a lot of difference between the two teams.
"Every time that we tried to arrive to their box, they committed 13 fouls. We had just five. We were a little bit innocent.
Pep Guardiola: "In the first half we were sloppy with our passes, we were not precise. But that's normal. The first game, away, 12.30 kick-off, hot. It's normal. In the second half, from the beginning we were better, more calm, more passes. After 3-0, the game was over."
- Manchester City have won their last 15 Premier League games. It's only the second time a team has won as many consecutively in the English top-flight, with the club also holding the record (18 between August-December 2017).
- West Ham have now lost their last four opening fixtures to a Premier League season, including each of the last three by an aggregate score of 0-13.
- Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 18 goals in his last 10 starts for Manchester City in all competitions, scoring 13 and assisting a further five.
City now host Tottenham on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 5.30pm, while West Ham go to Brighton at 3pm on Saturday.
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