Yaya Toure’s brace helps put Man City level with Arsenal
It appears London is the preferred destination for Roberto Mancini’s side when on their travels. One of City’s best displays of the season came in their 4-0 win at Fulham, and Saturday afternoon’s trip to Upton Park proved another fruitful excursion to the capital city.
Yaya Toure’s brace capped an impressive performance by the Ivory Coast international and his Manchester City colleagues in what was a comfortable victory over West Ham.
The midfield quartet of Toure, David Silva, Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry worked together with fluidity to leave a tired home side chasing shadows and expending energy. For much of the first half West Ham were tame off the ball and even less incisive with possession.
Within just three minutes City should have taken an early lead. Jo darted down the left wing and delivered a low ball towards Robert Green’s front post, but Mario Balotelli’s side-footed effort went narrowly wide. The away side continued to utilise the creative force of Silva and Toure as they sought to unlock an unsteady Hammer’s defence.
Toure, who gradually became a key influence on the match, issued West Ham with another warning when he shrugged of the attention of captain Scott Parker and dribbled past two more home defenders. But the former Barcelona midfielder could only direct his shot straight into Green’s arms.
Minutes later City surged into a lead courtesy of Toure’s thunderous strike. Barry’s mislaid pass was intended for Silva but instead broke to Toure, who unleashed a powerful drive into the roof of the net.
City continued to flood the home side’s half with bodies and moments after the opening strike, Balotelli’s superb solo run almost resulted in a second for Mancini’s team.
Hammers boss Avram Grant has failed to escape the relegation zone since taking over at Portsmouth last November. But it appeared a rousing half-time talk may have worked as West Ham were more tenacious immediately after the restart. However any renewed vigour from the home side countered by Toure’s second of the afternoon.
The 27-year-old raced clear to collect De Jong’s through ball, racing past James Tomkins. His first effort hit the post but fortunately rebounded into the net off Green’s back.
The defensive midfielder was undoubtedly man of the match as he blossomed in his new role behind the front-men, a position which he was rarely enjoyed during his three-year spell at the Camp Nou.
Silva, who was crucial to City’s momentum throughout, created the visitor’s third. The World Cup winner showed great awareness to thread a perfectly timed pass to substitute Adam Johnson who duly completed the move with an agile side-step past Green before calmly slotting the ball into the empty net.
A near perfect performance was denied by a late West Ham consolation. Lazy marking afforded Tomkins with a free header from a corner, with Yaya’s brother Kolo inadvertently deflecting the effort past Joe Hart.