WEST HAM 2, MAN CITY 2
Manchester City displayed resilience to prevent their Premier League title bid from potentially being derailed at West Ham.
City were 2-0 down at half time through a brace from Jarrod Bowen as it did not look promising as Liverpool suddenly saw the door ajar and an opportunity to snatch the championship.
You only had to look at past history to see the omens were not promising. It was 10 years since City had come from two down at half time to draw a game and 17 years since they overturned it to win.
But City were not beaten as Jack Grealish and a Vladamir Coufal own goal levelled the scores before Riyad Mahrez missed a late penalty which would have completed a remarkable recovery as they went four points clear at the top.
But the point leaves City’s fate in their own hands as they will retain the title and win it for a fourth time in five years if they beat Aston Villa at home next Sunday on the final day of the season.
City manager Pep Guardiola was delighted with the fightback which leaves the title destiny in their own hands.Embed from Getty Images
“It is an incredible privilege to win one game at home to be champions.
“I can assure you in one week the stadium will be full and all give absolutely everything to win the game.
“After the exceptional performance at Wolves, we needed four points to be champions with no debate about goal difference.”
Guardiola, who thought a draw was a fair result, revealed what he told the players at half-time.
“I said these things happen (conceding goals) and do not be sad,” he said.
City had a makeshift defence with Kyle Walker, John Stones and Ruben Dias all ruled out for the season by Guardiola.
To make matters worse Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho both went off with injuries in Wednesday’s 5-1 win at Wolves and were assessed before today’s game but passed fit to line up in the centre of defence.
There were three changes from midweek with Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and Jack Grealish replacing Ilkay Gundogan, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden.
West Ham made one change from their emphatic 4-0 win at Norwich last week. Midfielder Tomas Soucek was on the bench last week, but he started in place of Said Benrahma.
Mark Noble, who joined the club as an 11-year-old, was on the bench for his final appearance at the London Stadium.
It was emotionally charged with home-grown Noble, 35, raised in nearby Canning Town, paraded on the pitch pre-match for a tearful farewell.
Then in the 16th minute – his shirt number – there was spontaneous applause throughout the stadium.
The Hammers, occupying a Europa Conference League place and challenging Manchester United for a Europa League spot, made a bright start as an early header from Craig Dawson, which followed a corner, looped on to the roof of the net.
Dawson then made a crucial intervention at the other end deflecting an on-target goal attempt from Rodri over the bar for a corner.
That was quickly followed by a drive from Fernandinho which narrowly cleared the crossbar.
The Hammers made the all-important breakthrough in the 24th minute through Bowen.
The striker raced on to a Pablo Fornals ball over the City defence and rounded goalkeeper Ederson before firing home from the tightest of angles for his 17th goal of the season.
City had two decent chances to equalise as Laporte and Gabriel Jesus both saw drive flash past the upright.
And it got better for the Hammes into the last minute of the half when they doubled their lead through Bowen.
It started from another long clearance by goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski and ended with Michail Antonio hooking the ball over the City defence as he raced through to score with a composed finish low to the left of Ederson from the edge of the box.
City, stunned to be 2-0 down at the break, needed a solid start to the second period as got that when Grealish halved the deficit within four minutes.
A corner was cleared to Oleksandr Zinchenko whose cross was headed back by Joao Cancelo to Grealish who struck a shot into the ground before it looped over Fabianki into the net for his sixth goal of the season and one which could potentially be the most important.
City scented the kill and Bernardo Silva went close to making in 2-2 when he is shot was well blocked by Fabianki before the ball was hacked to safety by the home defence.
The Hammers had a chance to score a third when Antonio intercepted a woeful back pass from Fernandinho but the striker shot wide when he ought to have done better.
How quickly fortunes changes as the home side, could have been 3-1 ahead, were soon pegged back to 2-2.
Coufal, trying to cut out a Riyad Mahrez free kick, only succeeded in heading into his own net.
Bowen had a glorious chance to complete a hat-trick and put his side ahead but his goalbound shot was blocked by Rodri.
City had a strong shout for a penalty when Jesus went down after a challenge from Craig Dawson which was initially not given but VAR John Brooks sent Anthony Taylor to the pitchside monitor.
Taylor pointed to the spot but Mahrez saw his kick well saved to Fabianski low to his left.