MAN CITY 3, WEST HAM 1
Manchester City’s victory against West Ham, which took them to the top of the Barclays Premier League, could have been achieved at a cost.
Television cameras caught an elbow by star striker Sergio Aguero on Hammers’ defender Winston Reid.
And should Aguero be hit by a retrospective charge from the Football Association, the Argentine could be hit by a three-match ban for violent conduct which would start with the derby at Old Trafford on Saturday, September 10.
“Sky spoke to me about it, but I didn’t see it and I cannot comment.If you call me later, I will give you my answer,” explained City coach Pep Guardiola.
“We will have to accept a decision and adapt, but if we lose him, we lose him.”
Guardiola was pleased with his side’s first-half performance with pundit Niall Quinn, their former striker, describing it as “Shangri-La” football.
City were impressive in the opening half and were 2-0 ahead inside 18 minutes thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho.
Injury-hit Hammers were lucky to be only two down at the break, but fought their way back into the game with a goal from Michail Antonio.
Suddenly Slaven Bilic’s side sensed it might take something from the game and City did not clinch victory until stoppage time when Sterling scored his second of the game.
Guardiola thought his side deserved their victory and could have done so by a wider margin as they created 22 chances, but only five were on target.
And he believes they will be even stronger when Ilkay Gundogan, Leroy Sane and Claudio Bravo are integrated into the team.
“We need those players as others cannot play all season,” he explained.
Hammers’ manager described it as a game of two halves saying he could not have expected more from his injury-decimated squad that was without “seven or eight top players”, and was delighted with the character showed.
City made two changes from the side that started at Stoke in their last league game as Gael Clichy and Nolito came in for Aleksandar Kolarov and Jesus Navas.
Injury-hit Hammers’ hopes of a repeat of last season’s win at the Etihad appeared remote in the absence of Dimitri Payet, Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho and Andrew Ayew.
They were left to field a front pairing of debutant Ashley Fletcher, the former Manchester United youngster, and Enner Valencia.
And after only 18 minutes, the game was effectively over as a contest as City had already established a 2-0 advantage.
Sergio Aguero and David Silva had already shot wide before Sterling fired City ahead in the seventh minute.
David Silva and Nolito combined with the latter cutting the ball back for Sterling to convert from eight yards with the simplest of chances.
City doubled their lead when Kevin De Bruyne planted a free kick on to head of Fernandino as the Brazilian made no mistake from eight yards.
De Bruyne had two other great chances to extend the lead in the opening half, but failed each time to hit the target.
A third goal continued to elude City as Nolito had an effort ruled out for offside and then curled another effort into the side netting.
The Hammers, who had been living dangerously and been completely outplayed, gained a foothold back in the game just short of the hour when they halved the deficit.
Arthur Masuaku delivered a looping cross from the left and Antonio headed into the roof of the net from four yards.
Suddenly it was game of as the Hammers sensed an opportunity to take something from the game.
City looked to re-establish a two-goal cushion as Aguero, substitute Samir Nasri twice and Sterling all went close in the latter stages.
A third and clinching goal finally came in the second minute of stoppage time.
Silva was denied by the upright and moments later Sterling cut in from the byline on the left and found the net from the tightest of angles.
It was a goal that took City to the top of the table on goal difference ahead of Chelsea and Manchester United who have all taken maximum points from three games.