Jack’s in the box to sink moneybags City
West Ham 1 Manchester City 0 MANCHESTER CITY have spent enough money to make an HBOS banker wince, and though they haven t wasted it completely on the likes of Robinho and Craig Bellamy, Sunday was a day for more simple pleasures, writes DAVE EVANS. Youn
West Ham 1 Manchester City 0
MANCHESTER CITY have spent enough money to make an HBOS banker wince, and though they haven't wasted it completely on the likes of Robinho and Craig Bellamy, Sunday was a day for more simple pleasures, writes DAVE EVANS.
Young midfielder Jack Collison, who cost the Hammers nothing after he came through the West Ham Academy, was the Welshman left celebrating on St David's Day, as Bellamy sloped off injured and City boss Mark Hughes moaned about negative play from the hosts.
West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola was having none of it: "I think it was a close game, but maybe we deserved it a bit more than them," he said. "It was a crucial game for us and a very important win for us."
It certainly was, and it didn't always look like coming on a day marred by what looked like a serious injury to West Ham midfielder Valon Behrami.
The Swiss international seemed to get his studs caught in the turf and twisted his left knee and after five minutes of treatment was stretchered off.
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Perhaps in a bizarre sort of way, the enforced substitution helped the Hammers. Savio came on and added much-needed width and though he doesn't always get it right, he does add something to the mix for West Ham.
On 71 minutes he certainly did that. The excellent Carlton Cole swept a pass into his path on the left and the diminutive German cut inside and let fly with a shot from the edge of the box that Shay Given could only palm away.
The ball fell for 20-year-old Collison and he did the rest, showing expert technique to finish with a superb lob volley over the keeper's head and into the net.
"Savio has done well," confirmed Zola. "I'm very pleased for him because he came here with a lot of expectation and to be honest, he was a bit under pressure.
"He knows everyone is waiting for something special from him, but the way he is working and his attitude is excellent. He is going to be a very successful player for us."
West Ham had started brightly with Herita Ilunga almost setting up Cole, only for the striker to be muscled off the ball, but the Hammers were still looking uncharacteristically nervous at the back.
On 14 minutes, Scott Parker and Matty Upson both played a part in losing possession and allowing Simon Ireland to get in a cross which fell invitingly for Vincent Kompany.
His shot was intentionally deflected by Robinho, who was being played onside by Upson, but Rob Green was equal to the task and made a superb save.
Bellamy, constantly booed throughout his dismal 66 minute stay on the pitch, did get past Behrami on the left touchline before his ball into the box finally came to Robinho, who somehow contrived to miss from just six yards out.
David Di Michele was looking lively at the other end, with clever turns creating openings, but his final pass usually went ast-ray, while his shots were too tame to test Given.
Behrami had a shot well blocked, while Collison forced a good save from Given with a low drive after combining well with Ilunga, but the main talking point of the first half was the injury to Behrami just before the break.
With Bellamy stuck on the wing and Robinho hardly figuring in the game for City, it was the Hammers who took a firmer grip on things after the break.
Collison started and finished a flowing passing move, but could not get enough on his shot, as Richard Dunne headed it behind, while from the corner Cole's glanced header forced a save from the goalkeeper.
Di Michele slipped a pass to Cole in the box only for him to be well tackled by Nedum Onuoha, despite the appeals for a penalty, while Savio's clever flick put Di Michele away and when his pass found Parker, the midfielder's shot was deflected wide.
Collison grabbed the goal with 20 minutes left, but from then on it was a different game, as the Hammers sat back and allowed City to attack them.
It was a tactic they have tried before this season without success and they came very close to throwing these three points away too.
Brazilian Elano, who had scored two against West Ham earlier in the season, replaced Bellamy and immediately made an impact as he put in fellow sub Felipe Caicedo for a shot which hit the side-netting.
Caicedo blasted another effort over the bar, while Robinho shot wide and then blasted goalwards only for Lucas Neill to deflect his shot in inches past the post by Lucas Neill.
The best chance came in injury time. Savio inexplicably gave the ball to Robinho and when Parker brought him down just outside the box, the nightmares of Bolton and Middlesbrough reared their heads again.
Once more, Green looked out of position and Elano's kick looked to be going in before the back-pedalling Neill managed to head it wide.
West Ham held on to take the points and there were many plus points to be taken from this victory.
True, City did miss plenty of chances, but it was the team-spirit in the West Ham ranks that saw them home and you can't buy that.
West Ham: Green, Neill, Ilunga, Tomkins, Upson, Behrami (Savio 43), Kovac (Spector 83), Parker, Collison, Di Michele (Lopez 87), Cole. Unused subs: Lastuvka, Sears, Payne, Stanislas.
Attendance: 34,562. Referee: Mike Dean.