City didn’t just race out of the blocks, they set a pace Usain Bolt would have been proud of. The intensity that has long been the hallmark of any Pep Guardiola side was evident from the first minute with sky blue shirts swarming around West Ham players every time the ball was with the opposition – in fact the Hammers just couldn’t live with the Blues’ pace and work-rate.
Sergio Aguero and David Silva went within a foot or so of opening the scoring before Nolito who picked out Sterling in the middle and the England winger made no mistake from eight yards out.
So dominant were the Blues that a second goal was inevitable and the only surprise was it took another 12 minutes to arrive.
Sterling won a free-kick on the right flank through sheer determination and Kevin De Bruyne’s superb whipped ball was powerfully headed home by Fernandinho to double City’s lead.
It was thrilling, high-octane stuff with every player having a part to play – and this against one of last season’s best Premier League sides who had been made to look pretty ordinary.
Before the break, De Bruyne came within a whisker of adding a third twice, first with a free-kick that struck the top of the bar and then when he side-footed a low shot that was deflected inches wide.
City began the second period in a similar vein with Nolito seeing a goal wiped off for offside and the Aguero wrongly flagged offside when clean through on goal - but moments after the latter decision, West Ham found a lifeline when Michail Antonio headed home at the far post - much to the chagrin of Guardiola on the touchline.
It hadn't been coming, but it was an example of how marginal decisions can change the momentum of a game.
City continued to see the majority of the ball, but perhaps the first-half exertions had taken their toll and the pace wasn't quite as intense and the movement a little less fluid. But anything other than a home win would have been a travesty and the Blues kept going with Samir Nasri twice going close, Silva cracking a shot against the post before Sterling finished the job in added time with a clever shot from an acute angle.
You'd have to say the assistant referee's raised flag with Aguero timing his run to perfection on to Nolito's through pass - Sergio had already rounded Hammers' keeper Adrian when he noticed the flag which TV replays proved had been incorrect - it could have and should have been 3-0, instead it was 2-1 within minutes and the Blues suddenly were facing a nervy finish.
Photo of the match
Man of the match: Raheem Sterling
Two goals and non-stop running, it's fair to say that Raheem Sterling is loving life under Guardiola as well as silencing his critics. The boos from opposing fans will soon be replaced by respect as the City winger shows what he can do when full of confidence and belief..
What it means
City go back to the top of the Premier League with the 100% record still intact. The Blues reclaim top spot from Chelsea and Manchester United on goal difference and are one of just three teams in the top flight to have claimed maximum points. City head into the international break firing on all cylinders with the prospect of Ilkay Gundogan, Leroy Sane and Claudio Bravo all still to make their debuts,
Stats and milestones
- The omens are good – the last time City and United both won their first three games was in 2011/12, with the Blues edging the title on the final day (you may recall!).
- Nolito and Silva pushed Sterling hard for star man honours – Nolito has scored three and assisted two goals in his first five matches for City.
- A year today….Fernandinho’s last Premier League strike was on August 29 last year versus Watford – 365 days to be precise!
- This was City’s ninth win at home in the last 11 meetings with the Hammers.
- Only Lionel Messi has provided more assists that Kevin De Bruyne since the start of 2014/15 – his assist today takes him to 31 and he trails Messi’s 35 by four