MAN CITY 6, WEST HAM 0
Alvaro Negredo’s second hat trick of the season has almost certainly guaranteed Manchester City a place at Wembley as they chase their first piece of silverware under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.
It will take the mother of all comebacks from West Ham to overturn this hefty deficit in the second leg of their semi-final in the Capital One Cup as the pressure mounted on Hammers’ manager Sam Allardyce.
City, whose other goals came from Yaya Toure and a brace from Edin Dzeko, produced a ruthless display to see off the challenge from the struggling Hammers who have now won only once in their last 10 games in league and cup.
It was like lambs to the slaughter as City, who had laboured in recent games, were unstoppable and could have won by an even wider margin as they hit six or more goals at the Etihad Stadium for a fourth time this season and created a remarkable 32 goalscoring chances to West Ham’s three.
The performance delighted Pellegrini who said: “I think teams can always improve, but we played really well which is why I am so happy.
“We scored six goals and were very balanced as West Ham didn’t have one chance.”
Pellegrini was careful to say the semi-final is not yet over, but admitted it was an “important step” towards reaching Wembley.
When asked if Negredo has more to offer having only been at City for half a season, Pellegrini said: “To play better than he did today would not be easy.
“He produced the complete game in that he scored three goals and also linked with midfield. I am not surprised as I saw him play in Spain for a lot of years.”
City made four changes from Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Blackburn Rovers.
Winning recalls were captain Vincent Kompany. Pablo Zabaleta, Yaya Youre and Samir Nasri as they replaced the suspended Dedryck Boyata, Fernandinho, Matija Nastasic and James Milner.
City’s first clear-cut chance came early on when Javi Garcia headed wide at the near post from a David Silva corner.
And it only took until the 12th minute for City to make the all-important breakthrough when Yaya Toure punted a long ball forward from half way and Negredo found the bottom corner with the sweetest of volleys from just inside the box.
It was his 16th goal of the season for City and the tenth successive game at home in which he had found the net in matches in which he had started.
City had two chances to increase the lead, but keeper Adrian pulled off super stops to deny Silva and Nasri.
And it was not long before a second goal arrived in the 26th minute when Edin Dzeko’s defence-splitting pass released Negredo who fired high into the roof of the net past the advancing Adrian.
It was proving embarrassingly one sided as Nasri danced through the Hammers’ defence to set up Dzeko who blazed over with the goal at his mercy.
A third goal was inevitable and it came five minutes before the break when Yaya Toure broke from half way and, following a surging burst into the box, he fired low to the right of Adrian for his 13th goal of the campaign.
Negredo completed his second hat trick of the season soon after the restart when Silva’s pass deflected off Guy Demel into the path of the Spanish striker who curled a shot into the far corner of the net.
Remarkably it was Negredo’s 15th goal in 15 home games as his form at the Etihad Stadium has been awesome.
It could conceivably have got worse as Yaya Toure’s free kick flew just over the bar while Dzeko’s drive was not far off target.
The fifth goal came just after the hour when Gael Clichy’s low cross from the left was converted at the near post by Dzeko for his 11th of the season.
Dzeko was denied a second of the game and City’s sixth of the night by a super save from Adrian as the scoreline became embarrassing with Hammers’ fans venting their anger at Allardyce as they called for his sacking.
City would have added a sixth goal but for a fine save by Adrian to deny Dzeko.
The sixth goal came at the death by Dzeko rifled home a cross from substitute Aleksandar Kolarov to round off another memorable display.