West Ham United survived a late onslaught from Manchester City to beat the Barclays Premier League champions 2-1 on Saturday.
Goals in each half from Morgan Amalfitano and Diafra Sakho put Sam Allardyce's in-form side in control against City at the Boleyn Ground, only for a brilliant individual effort from David Silva 13 minutes from time to set up a grandstand finish.
Manuel Pellegrini's men threw everything at West Ham in the closing stages, but a stoic rearguard action from the hosts' defence, marshalled superbly by James Collins, ensured West Ham ended a five-and-a-half-year wait for a victory over City.
Allardyce claimed in the build-up that this game represented West Ham's best opportunity to end their winless run against City, due to the combination of his team's good form and the champions' midweek exertions in Europe, when Pellegrini's side drew 2-2 at CSKA Moscow.
So it proved as City struggled to cope with West Ham's energetic pressing game, exemplified by midfielder Alex Song, on loan from Barcelona, who stood out and was voted man of the match. It was no surprise when Allardyce named an unchanged XI from last week's 3-1 win at Burnley, and the hosts, who have lost just one of their last six Barclays Premier League matches, looked full of confidence from the off. Victory means West Ham sit one point adrift of second-placed City, for whom the result represents a blow in their efforts to keep pace with table-topping Chelsea.
Sergio Aguero provided City's early attacking threat, dropping deep to run directly at the heart of West Ham's backline. Silva and Yaya Toure struggled to assert their usual influence for City, though, and West Ham were rewarded for their solid start when Amalfitano rounded off a superb team move after 21 minutes.
Three of Allardyce's summer recruits combined to break the deadlock. Enner Valencia showed his searing pace in latching on to a perfectly weighted pass from Song down the right, before cutting back for Amalfitano to convert from four yards.
Buoyed by the opener, West Ham upped the tempo of their game and could have doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time, only for Collins to narrowly fail to connect with Amalfitano's low cross after a clever set-piece routine.
West Ham picked up where they left off after the break, with Stewart Downing and Sakho threatening Joe Hart's goal. But, as the home side's intensity dropped, City, and Aguero and Toure in particular, sparked into life.
Aguero forced Adrian into a superb save on the hour, before striking the bar from six yards after Toure's driving run through the middle had led to Jesus Navas cutting back to the striker.
Toure himself then rattled Adrian's bar, and that narrow miss proved costly as Sakho headed home his sixth Barclays Premier League goal of the season from Aaron Cresswell's deep cross to give West Ham a two-goal lead with 15 minutes to go. Silva halved the deficit as he jinked in from the right, beat four West Ham defenders before curling an unstoppable shot beyond Adrian from 18 yards.
City laid siege to Adrian's goal thereafter, with Toure firing into the side-netting in the 90th minute and Stevan Jovetic forcing the goalkeeper into another save, but West Ham held firm to secure three points.
Werst Ham manager Sam Allardyce: "There was no doubt that was the best of our three home wins. The performance was the best of the lot as well, because the quality of the opposition we played makes it the best performance we did this season.
"We terrorised their defence whenever we got the chance. People are calling it old-fashioned for some reason, but crossing the ball and heading it in the net is never going to be old-fashioned. If you play to your strengths, and these lads are showing that is one of their strengths, then you will score goals.
"These lads are not as big as Andy Carroll but they're as good in the air as Andy in the box, so if the quality of the ball continues to be there, they are going to get more and more chances and more and more goals.
"We have to keep our feet on the ground and ask ourselves 'Can we get better than we already are?' - that's our ultimate challenge. For me, the ultimate challenge is not to see any complacency slip in and them thinking, 'We've done it all.’ We will not do anything unless we continue to work as hard as we've done for the whole of this season."
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: "I don't think we deserved to lose this game. We had two or three clear chances where we could have scored. West Ham played very well [in the] first half [and] we improved a lot in the second. But if you don't score, you can't win. If we played how we did in the second half in the first half we might have been able to say [that the journey to Russia had an effect].
"[We have] 87 points to play for [and] we are second in the table. I repeat, we had a very undeserved defeat today."
|13 Dec 2014||v Sunderland (A)|
|22 Nov 2014||v Everton (A)|
|08 Nov 2014||v Aston Villa (H)|
|29 Nov 2014||v Newcastle (H)|
|07 Dec 2014||v Swansea (H)|
|02 Dec 2014||v West Brom (A)|