City had to battle a dogged West Ham and blizzard conditions to edge a narrow 2-1 victory at the Etihad.

In freezing temperatures, Ilkay Gundogan gave City a first-half lead after good work by Riyad Mahrez.

And though chances came and went for the champions, sub Fernandinho‘s 90th-minute goal proved vital, with Manuel Lanzini pulling one back in added time.

What happened?

It was tough going in the early stages, with a well-organised West Ham frustrating City.

With the visitors resolute in defence and industrious in midfield, space was hard to come by and on a couple of occasions, West Ham looked dangerous when they attacked..

But gradually, the champions began to find gaps and create opportunities.

Kyle Walker saw a low drive fizz past the left-hand post and Aymeric Laporte was unlucky to see a header loop just wide.


Mahrez had the ball in the net but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside.

With snow falling continuously, visibility became difficult and it was affecting both teams with the pattern of play slow, and difficult in blizzard-like conditions.

City, however, were adapting and the chances began to tot up until finally, the breakthrough on 34 minutes.

Joao Cancelo played the ball out to Mahrez on the right and the Algerian progressed into the box before sending a short pass into the middle for Gundogan to sweep home.

It was thoroughly deserved by that stage and a couple of minutes later, it could have been two as Gabriel Jesus broke clear only to see his shot scrambled off the line by Ben Johnson.

Mahrez went close again before the break, but the Hammers clung on without conceding again.

The interval allowed the Etihad’s hard-working ground staff to clear the snow and ensure something approaching a normal second period could ensue.

City were quickly on the front foot again and on 56 minutes, Gundogan fed Sterling on the left and his low cross was met by Jesus who just connected ahead of Fabianski, but Aaron Creswell managed to clear before the ball rolled into the net, colliding with the post as he did so.

Then Sterling fed Gundogan inside the box and his low shot was saved by Fabianski as the Blues searched for the goal that would seal three points ten minutes from time.

But finally, the second did come a minute from the end of normal time with a goal made in Brazil as Jesus worked his way into the box from the left before picking out Fernandinho who planted a low shot into the bottom left corner - he’d only been on the pitch a couple of minutes!

There was still time for Manuel Lanzini to pull one back - but the final whistle went straight after as the champions banked three deserved points.


City: Ederson, Walker, Cancelo, Laporte, Dias, Rodrigo, Gundogan, Bernardo, Sterling Fernandinho 87), Jesus, Mahrez

Subs: Steffen, Carson, Stones, Zinchenko, Ake, Palmer, McAtee

West Ham: Fabianski, Johnson, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell (Coufal 61), Soucek, Rice, Fornals, Benrahma (Lanzini 60), Masuaku (Bowen 74), Antonio

Subs: Yarmolenko, Vlasic, Areola, Noble, Diop, Král

What it means...

City go back to second in the Premier League, ahead of Liverpool and level on points with Chelsea who play Manchester United later today.

What’s next?

City travel to Villa Park on Wednesday evening to take on Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa.

Kick-off is 20:15 (UK).

Pep’s verdict

“The groundskeepers, the guys who take care of the pitch, were the men of the match today.

“They did an incredible job for us to be able to play the game today.

“We came from a tough game in midweek against PSG and we know exactly which team we face today.

“The amount of chances we created in the first half, in the conditions that we played, [it’s] a huge victory for us, for the effort for the players, for the performance in general.

“We didn’t concede much, we controlled the counter attack. Maybe we could have found another rhythm but the weather didn’t allow us to do it.

“A good performance from all of us.”

Ballet on Ice - part 2!

It wasn’t quite a repeat of our famous ‘Ballet on Ice’ against Tottenham in 1967, but as far as the conditions went, it was very similar.

That day in December at Maine Road, City gracefully swept aside Spurs 4-1 with Tony Book’s secret tip of unscrewing the studs on the boots giving the Blues a sure-footed confidence that resulted in a masterful display by Joe Mercer’s men.

That sort of boot doesn’t exists 50-plus years on, but the skill and technique of the current City players was commendable in the winter wonderland of a pitch at the Etihad.

And the three points will have warmed the freezing supporters on this most wintry afternoon in East Manchester.

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