Manchester City put their off-field problems to one side as Pep Guardiola’s side brushed aside West Ham to record a comfortable 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium. City dominated from start to finish but had to wait until the half-hour mark to get off the mark when Kevin De Bruyne’s corner was converted by the head of Rodri and the impressive Belgian cooly fired past Lukasz Fabianski to double the Sky Blues advantage. It could have been more had City been more ruthless in front of goal, but ultimately it was an easy night’s work for the hosts, while West Ham are left languishing in the bottom three.
City weren’t emphatic but they were professional, and Guardiola’s men must be praised for ending a tough week with three points. Aymeric Laporte also returned to the side for only his fifth appearance of the campaign, while De Bruyne passed 15 Premier League assists four the fourth consecutive season.
The hosts should have put this one to bed by half time with Gabriel Jesus in particular guilty of making the wrong choice in vital moments. Although City’s cause wasn’t helped by the linesman — nor by VAR’s failure to intervene — when Sergio Aguero was fouled but the offside flag went up instead.
Manager rating (out of 10)
6 – You have to commend the City boss for his approach to a miserable midweek meeting with West Ham in the Manchester rain. Ever the professional, the Spaniard named a full strength XI as he looks to take leaders Liverpool as far as possible in the title race.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson, 6 — The towering keeper was completely untested in a contest where the visitors failed to register a single shot on target, although he had to keep a watchful eye on Michail Antonio‘s low cross just before the break.
DF Kyle Walker, 6 — It was a quiet first half for the ex-Tottenham man, but he held the line well to catch out Antonio with a well-executed offside trap, while his low cross was deflected away by Fabianski’s boot as Aguero scavenged for a tap-in.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 6 — Like his goalkeeper, Otamendi was a spectator for the most part of the contest, but was fortunate to see Antonio penalised for handball when his blazed clearance from Declan Rice‘s cross went skyward but failed to clear the City box.
DF Aymeric Laporte, 7 — City fans will have been delighted to see Laporte make just his second appearance of 2020. He found himself involved in an unwelcome sprint against Antonio early on, but intelligently put his body between opponent and ball to draw the foul. Did his best to loot Rodri’s goal, but didn’t quite manage to do so.
DF Benjamin Mendy, 6 — Provided plenty of width as City set up camp deep inside West Ham territory and played the ball nicely into the path of De Bruyne who almost assisted Aguero for the opener. Perhaps needed to be a touch more mindful of Ryan Fredericks‘ frightening pace on the counter.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 8 — Another day, another De Bruyne assist. Just. The Belgian’s inswinging corner was glanced in by Rodri after Jesus had earlier failed to capitalise from his poked through ball. De Bruyne then bagged one for himself, calmly steering the ball beyond Fabianski following a neat exchange with Bernardo Silva.
MF Rodri, 7 — Finally made the Sky Blues pressure count with an intelligent near-post run and glancing header into the bottom corner to register his third goal in City colours. Given that this was his first at the Etihad, he probably wouldn’t have been too pleased had Laporte managed to poke the ball over the line.
MF David Silva 7 — Threaded a remarkable pass into the feet of Jesus on the stretch only for his teammate to waste the opportunity. The fan favourite was at full-stretch again to pinch the ball away from Fabianski as City searched for a second, before picking out Jesus again with a pinpoint clip into the box.
FW Bernardo Silva, 7 — The Portugal star endured a quiet opening 45 minutes despite his side’s clear dominance, but almost struck City’s second with a powerful strike after the break. As it turned out he assisted it instead, neatly turning the ball around the corner for De Bruyne to finish.
FW Sergio Aguero, 7 — Almost caught out Fabianski with an ambitious strike off the outside of his right boot with his first involvement and should have been awarded a first-half penalty when he was blatantly impeded by Angelo Ogbonna. The Argentine came close again after the break, but his effort from the tightest of angles crept past the far post.
FW Gabriel Jesus, 5 — Needs to be much more clinical if he is to become Aguero’s successor. The Brazil man squandered a brilliant opportunity by trying to round Fabianski when a first-time finish was required before seeing close-range strikes superbly blocked by Aaron Cresswell and later Fabianski.
DF John Stones, 6 — Replaced the returning Laporte in the 65th minute, but had little to do other than helping the City pack to hunt down Antonio as the forward looked to stretch his legs.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, NR — Replaced De Bruyne in the 79th minute, but in truth the contest was all but over by that point.
MF Phil Foden, NR — Replaced David Silva as a precaution in the 85th minute with the Spaniard appearing to have taken a knock, but didn’t have time to make an impact.