Nicolas Otamendi leads fightback as Manchester City see off West Ham

Football


Manchester City found it tough but eventually had enough to beat West Ham 2-1 at the Etihad.
Manchester City found it tough but eventually had enough to beat West Ham 2-1 at the Etihad.
Manchester City found it tough but eventually had enough to beat West Ham 2-1 at the Etihad.
Manchester City found it tough but eventually had enough to beat West Ham 2-1 at the Etihad.

In comparison to recent acute problems, Manchester City’s turnaround in Sunday’s 2-1 win over West Ham was relatively smooth.

With goals after 57 and 83 minutes, the memories of a flaccid, lackadaisical first half were partially banished, as the spring in the step returned to their play.

But recent skin-of-the-teeth events will give the chasing pack a glimmer of hope despite the maintenance of an eight-point gap at the top.

Positives

Got the comeback over with a whole seven minutes to spare this time, following the late show in the win over Southampton in midweek. After a grim first half, they upped the ante in the second, looking far more like their normal selves.

Negatives

Undone for the third game running from a corner. There was little aerial challenge offered to West Ham’s first corner of the game, which had left Michail Antonio with a back post chance. The same thing happened for the goal, with Nicolas Otamendi out-jumped by Angelo Ogbonna.

Manager Rating out of 10

8 — Pep Guardiola rested Vincent Kompany for the entire match and only brought on Fernandinho with six minutes to play. Both were one booking away from missing the Manchester derby next week through suspension. Guardiola’s second-half substitutes worked a treat, however, with Gabriel Jesus sparking the attack immediately.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Ederson, 8 — One of his busier home games, saving somewhat luckily from Manuel Lanzini, but magnificently later on from an Antonio breakaway. Fast delivery to all areas a real boon in the upping of the second-half tempo.

DF Kyle Walker, 6 — Fast in recovery at the back, but little doing when he advanced, with overhit crosses and blocked paths the features of his afternoon. One nicely measured ball dinked into Jesus’ path spread some panic, but quiet otherwise.

DF Eliaquim Mangala, 6 — Relatively comfortable and used an unaccustomed right foot to reasonable effect across the back four, but always looks seconds away from a disaster and gave the ball away in the 90th minute, losing out to Marko Arnautovic, whose ball in almost led to a goal.

DF Nicolas Otamendi, 8 — Entirely fitting that it was his head beating the ball away from danger as the final whistle blew. Despite being out-jumped for the West Ham goal, he was determined in the tackle and always the one advancing to try to find the killer ball through a forest of black shirts. His goal helped trigger the fightback.

DF Danilo, 6 — Once again thrown into a left-back slot, he has not looked comfortable with previously. Cue similar happenings, cut short by his half-time removal for Jesus and a re-jig at the back.

MF Fabian Delph, 7 — Asked to be the midfield foil, he produced some neat touches, without ever looking completely at home. Control and fast feet show a player at the top of his confidence and with a return to left-back for the second half, he revealed his qualities going forward.

MF Kevin De Bruyne, 7 — Difficult time again, trying to find his passing range. In among the failed passes, there were lovely touches with the outside of the boot to admire, and his languid body language belies a game-changing eye for the pass, as seen with the delightful chip for David Silva to net the winner.

MF David Silva, 7 — Only player who showed any urgency in a turgid first half. Fitting that his quality finally paid out for City, with a clever adjustment of position to create an extra fraction of space for himself, before stretching to volley past the outstanding Adrian.

MF, Leroy Sane, 7 — Contrasting halves for the German flier: terribly lax in a sterile first 45 minutes of wayward crosses and missed passes, but brilliant after the break, forcing Adrian into save after save with both feet, as he cut in time and again from the left flank.

MF Raheem Sterling, 6 — Increasingly influential with his stream of late winners, there was little on offer here, bar a crucial back heel that put Jesus through to set up Otamendi’s equaliser.

FW, Sergio Aguero, 6 — Very active to start with but faded from view in the massed ranks of black shirts. Like those around him, picked up the thread in the second half to play his part in the concerted onslaught.

Nicolas Otamendi scored a crucial goal in Manchester City’s victory over an obdurate West Ham side.

Substitutes:

FW Gabriel Jesus, 8 — Replaced Danilo at half-time and played a major role in pepping up the side’s attacking after the break. Played the cross in for Otamendi’s goal and could have had the winner himself but for Adrian’s acrobatics.

MF Fernandinho, N/R — On after 84 minutes to shore up the midfield immediately after the winning goal, but lost possession dangerously instead.

MF Bernardo Silva, N/R — On for Sane after 91 minutes. What he thinks of his role as chief carrier of the ball to the corner flag is not as yet on record.

Simon is one of ESPN FC’s Manchester City bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @bifana_bifana.



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