MAN CITY 2, WEST HAM 0
For an out-of-form Manchester City, West Ham were the perfect opponents as they returned to winning ways.
City, with six losses in their previous eight games, didn’t have too much opposition as they easily overcame a Hammers side which has won only once in its last 12 matches.
And City were also handed a helping hand from James Collins with a bizarre own goal which gave them the all-important breakthrough as they sought to avoid a third straight defeat, something which had not happened since 2008.
There was also a goal for Sergio Aguero, his 26th of the season and 20th in the Premier League to make him top scorer.
It was a match which did little to inspire as City remain in fourth place but, significantly, seven points clear of fifth-placed Liverpool.
City only showed occasional flashes of brilliance while the Hammers’ slide in the second half of the campaign continued.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini said: “It was very important for the team to win after two defeats in a row. And it is worse when one is in a derby.
“Today we played consistently for the whole game, whereas in other games it has been for some minutes.”
Pellegrini though the injury to David Silva was accidental after he damaged his cheekbone following a flaying elbow from Cheikhou Kouyate.
And City’s manager refused point blank to comment on a report in a national newspaper from Yaya Toure’s agent accusing him and the club’s hierarchy of being “weak”.
Pellegrini made four changes from the derby defeat last Sunday, though three were enforced through injury.
Captain Vincent Kompany, Gael Clichy and James Milner, who were all ruled out, were replaced by Eliaquim Mangala, Aleksandar Kolarov and Frank Lampard while Fernando Reges was preferred to Fernandinho who stepped down to the bench.
Silva had two chances in the opening 11 minutes as City made a bright start. First he shot wide under pressure from Carlton Cole and then a drive narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Sergio Aguero then shot straight at keeper Adrian and Kolarov’s free kick deflected off the wall and whistled past the post for a corner as City kept up the pressure.
The breakthrough came in the 18th minute when the hapless Collins put through his own goal. The central defender tried to clear a Jesus Navas cross, but lofted the ball over Adrian as it went in off the crossbar.
The Hammers, who had won only once in their previous 11 games, finally came to life as City keeper Joe Hart was forced to block to deny Carlton Cole and then dive to keep out a drive from Enner Valencia.
But it was City who went 2-0 ahead in the 36th minute after Yaya Toure intercepted the ball in midfield. Aguero broke and, after playing a return pass with Navas, found the net with a well executed low shot, his 26th goal of the season.
The second half was decidedly flat as City were in a commanding position and the Hammers didn’t look capable of forcing their way back into the game.
The Hammers were lucky not to be reduced to 10 men when Kouyate was booked for an elbow to the face of Silva who was flattened and taken from the field on a stretcher in a neck brace following an eight-minute stoppage to be replaced by Samir Nasri.
A piece of sublime skill by Valencia in the dying minutes set up substitute Kevin Nolan who just failed to connect in front of goal as he lunged in.
Moments later Nolan burst clean through only for Hart to race from his line to make a brilliant block.
In the nine minutes of stoppage time, Yaya Toure and substitute Edin Dzeko both had chances to score a third goal, but neither looked like finding a way past Adrian.