Tevez and Man City in a different league

Manchester City 3 West Ham 1 WEST HAM may be playing in the Premier League - for now anyway - but for all intents and purposes they are playing in a completely different league to the likes of Manchester City, writes DAVE EVANS. It was aptly illustrated

Manchester City 3 West Ham 1

WEST HAM may be playing in the Premier League - for now anyway - but for all intents and purposes they are playing in a completely different league to the likes of Manchester City, writes DAVE EVANS.

It was aptly illustrated during the second half. As West Ham brought on two inexperienced youngsters in Zavon Hines and Junior Stanislas, City were able to introduce �18million man Roque Santa Cruz - it is a very different ball game.

Hammer's starting X1 had cost a total of �25million, while City had a defender in Joleon Lescott who cost almost as much as that on his own.

In truth, West Ham had neither the personnel or the tactics to test Mark Hughes' high-flying side. They had their moments, particularly in the second half, where the likes of Alessandro Diamanti and Carlton Cole caused problems, but it was like trying to fell a tree with a wet herring - it was never likely to have an effect.

How Cole must have looked enviously towards the other end of the park as former team-mates Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez buzzed around the West Ham penalty area with the enthusiasm of schoolboys in a sweet shop.

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Cole was more like a tennis doubles player without a partner, forced to play both on the baseline and at the net - it was simply never going to work as a strategy to beat a team as good as City.

For perhaps the first time this season, manager Gianfranco Zola was furious with his team.

"I am angry with myself, with my team, with everybody right now who is not doing what they are capable of - it's as simple as that," he ranted.

"I see these players training and the way they train is absolutely fantastic and we need to take that on the pitch as a team, not as individuals, so I am not ple-ased, first of all with myself, I am the first one, I have blame for myself first."

Thankfully he admits it, because you have to say that Zola was partly culpable for this performance. He may have been hamstrung by being without the likes of Matty Upson, Danny Gabbidon and Valon Behrami, but the set-up of the team just looked wrong.

Two flair players, supposedly backing up Cole, were a luxury that West Ham could not afford to have, and with Radoslav Kovac once more playing the same role as Scott Parker in the middle of the field, Mark Noble may as well have not been playing for all the ball he saw.

It took just four minutes and 22 seconds to break the deadlock and the goal could not have been any easier.

Gareth Barry nodded the ball on to Martin Petrov, taking full back Julien Faubert completely out of the move at the same time.

The Bulgarian crossed low and there was Tevez, just a couple of yards out and completely unmarked to tap the ball into the net with ease.

The Argentinian celebrated in a respectful way in front of the West Ham fans, a lesson for one of his team-mates perhaps, but there was no stopping City as they threatened to run away with things.

Wayne Bridge stung Rob Green's fingers with a 20-yarder, Tevez hit the stanchion after being set up by Gareth Barry, and the former Hammer then blasted over when well placed.

Petrov and Tevez went close again and Zola was looking increasingly disillusioned as he trudged back to the dug-out, hands in pockets.

All that was to change on 24 minutes though as West Ham grabbed an unlikely equaliser.

Diamanti's superb curling free kick was cleared by Lescott only as far as Kovac, and though the Czech's shot was scuffed and ugly, it somehow found its way to Cole in the area who cleverly back-heeled it in.

Cole forced a good save from Shay Given as he got on the end of Faubert's cross, but West Ham's equality only lasted seven minutes.

Luis Jimenez was harshly penalised on the edge of his box and Petrov blasted the free kick through the wall and into the corner. Green though, will certainly have to hold his hands up for the goal.

As Petrov stepped up, the keeper took a fatal step to his left and then couldn't get back to stop the effort.

He redeemeed himself slightly when he came out to block a Tevez effort and then saved Bellamy's header before West Ham almost grabbed a lifeline right on half time.

Cole muscled his way past Lescott before setting up Parker to sidefoot into the net, only for referee Chris Foy to blow up for a foul.

Replays showed that it was not even close to a foul, but whether Parker would have scored if the City defender had not stopped on hearing the whistle is a matter of conjecture.

"In my opinion, in the first 45 minutes we did not play at all," slammed Zola. "Maybe there was a couple of mistakes from the referee, but that is part of the game.

"The standard that I am expecting from the team is much more than that."

Maybe those refereeing decisions could have gone West Ham's way, but the chances are it would have made little difference, an injury-hit City side were simply too quick and too strong for the Hammers.

West Ham started the second half well with another Diamanti free kick causing chaos and resulting in a Jimenez shot being blocked by a defender.

But the game was up for the Hammers on 61 minutes. Bellamy floated a free kick to the far post, where three City players stood unmarked and in single file waiting for its arrival.

Tevez took the honours and though his header was hardly the stuff of Malcolm McDonald, it was still enough to beat Green.

Diamanti forced a good save from Given with a fierce left-foot shot and saw another deflected inches wide, but City could just have easily added to their own tally.

Barry's effort was tipped over by Green, Petrov missed when well-placed and even Santa Cruz tried to get in on the act, but they had already done more than enough to collect the points.

West Ham: Green, Faubert, Ilunga, Tomkins, Da Costa, Noble, Parker, Kovac (Hines 71), Diamanti, Jimenez (Stanislas 71), Cole. Unused subs: Kurucz, Spector, Nouble, Payne, N'Gala.

Att: 42,745. Referee: Chris Foy (5).

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