Tevez 4mins & 60, Petrov 31
West Ham 1
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- Mon 28 Sep 2009, 10:28PM
- Posted by Chris Bailey
Friends were reunited at the City of Manchester Stadium but West Ham will fervently hope they never see either Carlos Tevez or Craig Bellamy ever again.
The dazzling duo, ably backed by the wonderfully destructive Nigel de Jong and an effervescent and rejuvenated Martin Petrov made it a Hammers horror show for Gianfranco Zola.
Quite how the Blues managed only three goals will forever remain a mystery but one in each half from Tevez, either side of a Petrov free kick, was enough to take rampant City within three points of the summit of the nascent Premier League with a game in hand on their title rivals.
It was a sixth straight home win for the buoyant Blues and a 12th in 13 tries stretching back to December last year.
One of the lesser known statistics so far this term is that neither of these two sides had ever gone into the half time break behind.
Something had to give last night and it was the East Enders who felt the wrath of their manager’s tongue over the interval cuppa or whatever isotonic, energy drink is the ‘tipple de jour’ in elite dressing rooms.
Whatever Zola said at the break made not one jot of difference as Mark Hughes’ side simply outclassed their visitors.
Tevez, whose stay at Upton Park left so much controversy in its wake, tapped home his first league goal of the season in just the fourth minute courtesy of a fine low cross by Petrov.
The frisky Argentine ought to have put the game beyond doubt in the following ten minutes but was twice off target from close range.
West Ham’s defence endured torrid time against the rapid response, Blues’ attackers who zipped helter-skelter around the pitch leaving their markers chasing sky blue shadows.
It was a joy to watch and the only concern was that a second goal didn’t arrive immediately after the first.
Petrov came close, though, bringing a diving save out of Green after Shaun Wright-Phillips and Tevez had set him up in impish fashion after a slick move down the right.
However, the Blues paid heavily for their largesse in front of goal when a 24th minute Alessandro Diamanti free kick was only cleared as far as the completely unmarked Radoslav Kovac whose skewed shot from the edge of the box hit Carlton Cole and went in.
It was fluky but they all count and the equaliser set the Blues back on their heels as Cole’s header brought a fine save from Shay Given low down at the foot of his left hand post.
City though restored their lead in 31st minute when Petrov curled home his first league goal since April 2008 via free kick that bounced awkwardly beyond the diving Green.
The England goalkeeper was busier than the M6 on a late Friday afternoon and did well to spread himself at the feet of Tevez whose ninety minutes was easily his best so far in a City shirt.
Green also had to display some smart handling after South American duo Tevez and Zabaleta linked for Bellamy to direct a header towards the bottom corner.
City dominated the start to the second half and it was Tevez who put the spoils beyond doubt with the killer third goal a simple 60th minute header from Bellamy’s free kick. The defending was worse than woeful as the little man sneaked in at the far post.
World Cup hopeful Green saved his side again tipping over a thumping drive from Barry though the Blues left the back door ajar often enough for Given’s knuckles to be stung by a Diamanti effort.
Hughes’ men were though never in danger of surrendering their lead and the manager was allowed the luxury of giving Roque Santa Cruz, the last of the summer signings to pull on a shirt for a competitive contest, ten minutes of action during which he guided a shot into the side netting. Michael Johnson was also afforded a taste of the action after a lengthy injury absence.
Both were afforded a warm welcome by a exultant crowd who have now not witnessed a home draw since Wigan scurried back to the DW Stadium, it was the JJB back then, with a 0-0 stalemate in March 2008 – 25 matches ago. Long may it continue!