West Ham 0-5 Manchester City: Raheem Sterling hits hat-trick amid VAR farce

Posted on


How to improve on a treble? Simple. Be more ruthless, more exquisite, and even more clinical than before.

For all the talk of the inequality of Norwich City being swept aside at Anfield on Friday night, this was even more emphatic. West Ham are meant to be Premier League middleweights with aspirations of taking on the heavyweights. Yet they were floored, on the canvas and imploring their trainer to throw in the towel by the end.

Not that Pep Guardiola saw it that way. 

Raheem Sterling hit a brace as reigning champions Manchester City started the season with a 5-0 victory away to West Ham

Raheem Sterling hit a brace as reigning champions Manchester City started the season with a 5-0 victory away to West Ham

Sterling celebrates after completing his hat-trick as City opened their title defence with an emphatic statement of intent

Sterling celebrates after completing his hat-trick as City opened their title defence with an emphatic statement of intent

City star Sterling managed to guide the ball beyond West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski for the third goal

City star Sterling managed to guide the ball beyond West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski for the third goal

You might have thought it was pretty much the perfect start to the season.

‘In terms of result, yes,’ he replied.

In terms of performance?

‘Nope.’

Eyebrows were raised around the room. Mid table Premier League managers could almost be head quaking around the land. What precisely hadn’t he liked about his 5-0 away win at the London Stadium?

‘First half we were sloppy in our passes, our passages [of play] weren’t precise and our passes were not good,’ he said.

‘But that’s normal. I knew it. We thought about that before. First game, away, 12,30, hot….’ 

He has clearly been in Manchester too long. Even by the standards of an average English summer, it was not hot.

‘We didn’t have the rhythm. But that’s normal, being the first game. Second half from the beginning we saw we would be better; more clam. More extra passes. And after the game was between 0-3 the game was over.’ 

Sterling walks off with the match ball after hitting a hat-trick during City's 5-0 thrashing of West Ham to open their season

Sterling walks off with the match ball after hitting a hat-trick during City’s 5-0 thrashing of West Ham to open their season

Gabriel Jesus celebrates after his goal, scored in the 25th minute, put Manchester City in the lead against West Ham

Gabriel Jesus celebrates after his goal, scored in the 25th minute, put Manchester City in the lead against West Ham

Jesus is delighted after opening his account for the season as City took the lead in their clash against The Hammers

Jesus is delighted after opening his account for the season as City took the lead in their clash against The Hammers

In short, City need to do better than this. ‘We have to, yes,’ said Guardiola. ‘But that’s normal. And I know we’re going to get it. I understand completely being a little bit imprecise in our game.’

ALSO READ :  David Ortiz Is Celebrated, and Now Wounded, in His Homeland

Then, finally, almost as an afterthought, came the praise. ‘But I can’t deny I’m so delighted, 0-5 and away first game. We finished with winning 14 games in a row last season in the Premier League and now 15 so it’s good.’

Now for the really scary part of that analysis. He was right. City will play better than this. They were sluggish in the opening 20 minutes by their standards, with not enough pace in their passing. 

Jack Wilshere was pressing with gusto and Declan Rice looked poised in midfield. By contrast, Rodri looked a little bemused. You could almost believe there might be the glimmer of a contest in the game.

Yet, with the help of the VAR, whose interventions were frequent, lengthy yet ultimately hard to argue with, City squatted West Ham aside with disdain. It won’t just be the new kids on the blocks who are overwhelmed by the new superpowers of English football. 

One hundred points seemed exceptional two years ago and scoring well above ninety last season pretty remarkable; it may just be the new norm. 

Jesus runs to celebrate with Kyle Walker, who provided the assist for the Brazilian's goal against West Ham

Jesus runs to celebrate with Kyle Walker, who provided the assist for the Brazilian’s goal against West Ham

Raheem Sterling showed impressive composure to make it 2-0 to City in the 51st minute with a neat strike

Raheem Sterling showed impressive composure to make it 2-0 to City in the 51st minute with a neat strike

Sterling slotted the ball through the legs of West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski as City managed to double their lead

Sterling slotted the ball through the legs of West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski as City managed to double their lead

MATCH FACTS 

Ratings by Jack Gaughan 

West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabianski 6; Fredericks 5, Balbuena 5, Diop 5.5, Cresswell 4; Wilshere 5 (Snodgrass 56, 6), Rice 6; Anderson 4.5 (Hernandez 66, 6), Lanzini 6, Antonio 6.5 (Fornals 45, 6), Haller 6.5

Substitutes not used: Roberto, Ogbonna, Sanchez, Zabaleta

Booked: Balbuena, Anderson 

Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson 7; Walker 7, Stones 7, Laporte 7, Zinchenko 7; De Bruyne 8 (Gundogan 79), Rodri 7, David Silva 7 (Foden 80); Mahrez 9, Jesus 8 (Aguero 69, 7), Sterling 9.5

Substitutes not used: Bravo, Otamendi, Bernardo Silva, Cancelo

Goals: Jesus 25, Sterling 51, 75, 90, Aguero 86 (pen)

Booked: Walker, Sterling 

Referee: Mike Dean 6

The impossible thing with City is that can play at half speed, as they did early on, and still pick you apart in a thirty second spell of slick, precise football. 

It’s probably harder than it looks. But it seems as if they are merely toying with opponents.

ALSO READ :  Matthews signs with Rams after 10 years with Packers

There was another notable feature of their display here: Raheem Sterling, Last season he scored 25 goals, 23 the season before. 

Guardiola talks about him ultimately inheriting the central striker’s role in the same way that Lionel Messi graduated from a wide position to being the main man in his Barcelona side.

Here Sterling has three chances and scored a hat-trick. That wouldn’t have been the case two years ago. Even last week, he hesitated against Alison in the Community Shield. Here he was at another level.

‘Since we started the season in China, he has scored one goal minimum in every single game,’ said Guardiola.

‘The second goal, the control was not good, but the finish good. The third goal was much better than the one against one situation against Liverpool. So that’s good.

‘It happened against Alisson, he missed the action. He learned from that. That’s nice. To see these guys, 23, 24, to learn from this and next action I’m pretty sure he thought about that: ‘I’m going to be more clinical, more aggressive.’ That’s why he scored a hat-trick.’ 

Substitute Sergio Aguero scored a penalty for City after VAR deemed that the spot-kick should be retaken

Substitute Sergio Aguero scored a penalty for City after VAR deemed that the spot-kick should be retaken 

Aguero celebrates with fellow substitute Phil Foden after scoring City's fourth goal in their 5-0 victory against West Ham

Aguero celebrates with fellow substitute Phil Foden after scoring City’s fourth goal in their 5-0 victory against West Ham

City looked to have scored a third goal through Jesus but it was ruled out by VAR after Mike Dean said that Sterling was offside

City looked to have scored a third goal through Jesus but it was ruled out by VAR after Mike Dean said that Sterling was offside

Referee Mike Dean rules out Aguero's penalty, forcing a re-take that the Argentine duly converted to boost City's lead

Referee Mike Dean rules out Aguero’s penalty, forcing a re-take that the Argentine duly converted to boost City’s lead

Aguero made no mistake with his second attempt at the penalty, putting City into a four goal lead at the London Stadium

Aguero made no mistake with his second attempt at the penalty, putting City into a four goal lead at the London Stadium

City were fortunate perhaps in their first goal on 24 minutes – though the passage of lay from the goal kick that led up to it was precision personified – in that Kyle Walker’s cross deflected off Obiang and onto Gabriel Jesus’ knee and in.

Thereafter, they were just class above. On 52 minutes, West Ham lost the ball inside City’s half. A more robust side wouldn’t have allowed Kevin De Bruyne to stride unchallenged through the midfield. Sterling was the beneficiary, running on to a perfectly weighted pass and finishing decisively.

ALSO READ :  John Tavares Lifts Leafs Past the Islanders

A minute later when a brilliant Silva flick play in Sterling who squared for Jesus who scored. The lure of the Westfield bar and food courts seemed irresistible at this point for many. No-one relishes watching their team humiliated for a good half hour.

Yet the VAR intervened. It seemed Sterling had strayed a millimetre offside. There was delay of almost two minutes before the decision was announced and the goal overturned. It was greeted with huge cheers, like the fresh awakening of lost hope. 

Jesus' strike was the first time in Premier League history that a goal had been ruled out due to a VAR decision

Jesus’ strike was the first time in Premier League history that a goal had been ruled out due to a VAR decision

Sterling celebrates after scoring his second goal of the game as City secured a 5-0 victory away to West Ham

Sterling celebrates after scoring his second goal of the game as City secured a 5-0 victory away to West Ham

Sterling slots home at the near post to complete his hat-trick and seal City's emphatic victory with a fifth goal

Sterling slots home at the near post to complete his hat-trick and seal City’s emphatic victory with a fifth goal

Summer signing Rodri made his Premier League debut for City following his switch from Atletico Madrid

Summer signing Rodri made his Premier League debut for City following his switch from Atletico Madrid

And for a while West Ham played as though that were the case. Obiang headed over from a Robert Snodgrass and Ederson performed a superb double save from Chicarito and Lanzini on 74 minutes. 

But it really was all over on 78 minutes, when Mahrez lifted a pass over the defence to Sterling to score calmly. There was another lengthy VAR check; if anything thus looked more offside yet stood.

Now the lure of Westfield proved impossible to ignore for most home fans. There was time for another VAR intervention when Obiang fouled Mahrez in the box on 83 minutes. Sergio Aguero’s penalty was an awful, a weak strike at Lukasz Fabianski. 

Yet Rice had encroached in the penalty area to clear the ball away, so a re-take was ordered. You can’t really give Aguero two chances at a shot from twelve yards. He didn’t fail second time around.

By the time Sterling added the fifth, his hat-trick, in injury time, played in by Rodri, in his pomp by now, the stadium had pretty much emptied apart from the small knot of City fans. It felt an exhibition game by then. In many ways it was.  

New West Ham signing Sebastien Haller controls the ball as City defender John Stones patrols their back line

New West Ham signing Sebastien Haller controls the ball as City defender John Stones patrols their back line

City defender Kyle Walker competes for the ball with West Ham's Michail Antonio at London Stadium

City defender Kyle Walker competes for the ball with West Ham’s Michail Antonio at London Stadium

Raheem Sterling attempts to pass the ball for City while being put under pressure by West Ham's Declan Rice

Raheem Sterling attempts to pass the ball for City while being put under pressure by West Ham’s Declan Rice



Source link

Recommended for you