Manchester City held off a resilient West Ham fightback to secure an important three points at the Etihad with a 3-1 win on Sunday afternoon.
Raheem Sterling opened the scoring early on, with Fernandinho grabbing a second soon after as Slaven Bilic’s men were playing well below par.
However, the visitors improved after the break, Michail Antonio pulling one back with a strong header, but the all-important fourth goal went to the hosts – Sterling adding a second in injury time to kill off West Ham’s fight back.
The hosts started in emphatic fashion, with Sergio Aguero managing to come close with a low shot before Sterling opened the scoring after just seven minutes.
David Silva, who was given all the freedom to roam in the middle of the pitch, broke forward and played the ball through the defence to Nolito, on the left side of the area.
The Spanish international had all the time in the world to pick out his man, and his cut back was met by Sterling on the penalty area, and he easily sent the ball into the corner of the net.
West Ham did once manage to get the ball out of defence, Ashley Fletcher flashing a strike wide of the post after a great ball over the backline, but the Hammers were too scared to push high up due to the attacking threat posed by the hosts.
But despite all the control of the ball from City, it took a set piece for them to finally double the lead.
From the inside right position, Kevin De Bruyne sent in a lovely curling ball which Fernandinho powerfully headed home – aided by some shocking defending from the Hammers backline.
Aguero then went close with a header from another glorious De Bruyne free-kick, before the Belgian star sent a direct set-piece curling just over the bar.
A rare West Ham attack presented another chance for Fletcher, but his header from Gokhan Tore’s right-wing cross dropped weakly past the post.
De Bruyne, imperious in the final third, was then presented with an identical chance to the one Sterling tucked away, but his low strike was deflected wide and out for a corner.
The hosts spent the final stages of the opening period controlling possession with ease, and it was expected Slaven Bilic would be making changes at the break to ensure the Hammers didn’t fall even further behind.
And the Croat did make a change, bringing on Sam Byram for Tore, thus relieving Michail Antonio of his defensive duties and sending him onto the right wing.
But it was City who had the ball in the net first, Nolito tucking home from a free-kick just two minutes in to the second period – although it was correctly ruled out as the Spaniard was offside.
The Spaniard again came close, his long range strike curling into the side netting, before Aguero rounded Adrian in the Hammers goal, but was called offside as he went to roll the ball into the empty net.
City should have been out of sight, but a series of missed chances allowed the visitors back into the game, Antonio thumping a powerful header past Caballero at the far post from Masuaku’s excellent cross.
The goal gave the Hammers renewed vigour, with goalscorer Antonio especially impressive in the final third.
He sent over one cross which Cabellero had to keep out at the near post, before combining well with Lanzini before sending another cross which evaded everyone in the area.
City were fighting to stay in the game, and a visibly frustrated Aguero appeared to elbow Winston Reid in the face – an act which is sure to earn the Argentine striker a retrospective ban
Byram came to the visitor’s rescue with five minutes left, clearing a Nasri shot off the goal line to ensure the deficit remained at just one.
However, it was the hosts who grabbed the fourth goal, Sterling rounding Adrian and rolling the ball home from a narrow angle to secure all three points for Pep Guardiola’s men