MANCHESTER: Manchester City turned on the style to dismantle West Ham United 4-0 and revive their fading English Premier League title aspirations as Manchester United’s hopes suffered a potentially fatal blow with a goalless home against struggling Hull City.
City produced a scintillating first-half display on Wednesday (Thursday NZ time), scoring three times before the break through Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and new boy Gabriel Jesus, before Yaya Toure’s penalty capped a one-sided romp at the London Stadium.
Clinical finishing was in short supply at Old Trafford, however, where United came up against an inspired performance from Hull keeper Eldin Jakupovic, who made a string of superb saves to keep Jose Mourinho’s side at bay.
While City’s victory moved them level on 46 points with fourth-placed Liverpool and kept leaders Chelsea just about in their sights, United’s slip-up left them sixth, four points adrift of City and 14 off the summit.
It has not been plain sailing for City manager Pep Guardiola in recent months and he came into the game facing the prospect of losing three successive top-flight away matches for the first time in his managerial career. City had already beaten West Ham twice this season with an aggregate score of 8-1 and they were returning to the London Stadium less than a month after thrashing their hosts 5-0 in the FA Cup third round.
De Bruyne started and finished off a swift counter to put them ahead after 17 minutes and with the home side in disarray, City turned the screw. Sane gave Silva a tap-in at the far post four minutes later, before Jesus grabbed his first for the club.
City’s January signing side-footed in Raheem Sterling’s pass six minutes before the break and when Sterling was felled by Jose Fonte, making his West Ham debut, Toure stepped up to thump his penalty into the net. Stoke’s Peter Crouch dusted off his robot dance after opening the scoring against Everton with his 100th Premier League goal after seven minutes, finishing on the stretch after Marko Arnautovic had broken the offside trap. At 36 years and two days, the former Liverpool and England forward is the oldest player to reach his Premier League century.
The lead lasted until six minutes before the break when Ryan Shawcross deflected Seamus Coleman’s shot into his own goal.