West Ham 1
Boa Morte (16)
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 09 May 2010 18:16
- Posted by Chris Bailey
City’s best ever season since Division One morphed overnight into the Premier League ended in something of a whimper at Upton Park.
The Blues dominated possession for the entire ninety minutes but in truth the game never really got out of first gear or rose above a gentle training pace.
Two goals in four first half minutes, one for each side, briefly threatened an end of term treat but the contest fizzled out to nothing.
A top five place secured, European football in the bag for the first time in 32 years without the aid of co-efficients or a Fair Play table, and a ringing endorsement in his ears after Chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak’s exclusive video interview with mcfc.co.uk, meant Roberto Mancini was able to tinker with his team.
Still steadfastly wearing the Blue and White scarf that has become his trademark since joining City just before Christmas, the CoMs chief handed Brazilian veteran Sylvinho a start which was possibly a thank you and goodbye all in one go.
There was a rare appearance, too, for Roque Santa Cruz while Shaun Wright-Phillips was afforded the chance to remind Fabio Capello of his talents ahead of the provisional England World Cup squad being named.
Mancini, who had three of his promising Manchester Senior Cup winning team – Dedryck Boyata, Greg Cunningham and Abdi Ibrahim on the bench - could afford to relax and show largesse unlike his fellow Italian Gianfranco Zola stationed across the no-man’s land between the technical areas.
The two men embraced warmly before and after the match; whether they do so again next season with the former Chelsea striker still at the helm at Upton Park remains to be seen.
At least Zola’s ever-engaging smile had returned after a season of struggle that ended happily for those at the Boleyn Ground with a successful battle against the threat of relegation.
There was an air of end of season about the pedestrian pace with which both teams set off in pursuit of their final three points of the campaign.
City needed but a draw to make sure 5th place was secure at the expense of Villa while the Hammers were looking to bank another £800,000 or so for climbing a place up the Premier League ladder.
That seemed highly likely when Luis Boa Morte, playing his first game in more than a year, slotted the Hammers in front in the 17th minute, a delightfully taken goal after a wonderful defence splitting ball by Alessandro Diamanti.
But the Blues were dazzled only briefly by Diamanti whose goal was nullified within four minutes when Johnson crossed to the far post and Wright-Phillips produced a collector’s item – a headed goal planted in the far corner with casual aplomb.
Robert Green then saved well from a well struck Adebayor effort in the dying moments of the opening half but the home side had their chances too most notably through the busy Diamanti who struck the post with an equally decent effort.
The second half was played at much the same sedate, gentlemanly pace as the first though Cole went close with a header for the home side while the Blues shooting remained less than convincing with Wright-Phillips, Santa Cruz, Sylvinho and Adebayor all firing high or wide. It wasn’t very handsome!
City dominated possession throughout without seriously hurting the Hammers and easily the loudest cheer of the day greeted the arrival Carlos Tevez as a 72nd minute substitute. He retains folk hero status in the eastern part of London for his efforts whilst at Upton Park.
The Argentine’s arrival also brought out the most smiling inducing chant of the afternoon. Having been slightly taken aback by the welcome afforded our own top scorer, City fans broke into a chorus of ‘Let him score, Let him score’.
They didn’t – though he chipped on to the roof of the net - and the game petered out into a sterile stalemate that suggested some minds had already switched off.