Plenty of fight, but West Ham can’t claim a point at Manchester City

Hammers remain bottom after City reverse

West Ham remain bottom of the Premier League table following a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City, but will feel agitated they could not have gained a point from their encounter at Eastlands.

The Hammers started the game slowly and were two down after 15 minutes thanks to a Nigel de Jong strike and a Lars Jacobsen own goal, but played well for long periods of the game and after Demba Ba equalised after 33 minutes, outplayed their opponents.

Against a team set to play Champions League football next season West Ham put in an encouraging performance which should give them confidence as they approach their last three game of the season.

Not for the first time this season, boss Avram Grant made changes in formation and personnel. Luis Boa Morte came in to play left midfield, a move to give out of position Danny Gabbidon more support at full back, while Robbie Keane was preferred in attack to Carlton Cole.

West Ham sat deep early on and struggled to get the ball off the hosts, who were more than content to keep the ball for long periods.

And, after 11 minutes City took the lead as they failed to clear their lines from a corner.

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Thomas Hitzlsperger failed to close down De Jong quickly enough and his shot flew past Robert Green, who probably should have done better.

It was De Jong’s first goal in 69 games for the club and things soon got worse for the Hammers.

Pablo Zabaleta played a delightful one two with David Silva and crossed low and hard and from yards out Jacobsen could do little but deflect the ball into the net.

Two goals down after just 15 minutes, West Ham were up against a City side with the third best home defensive record in the division and in deep trouble.

Things got worse when Matthew Upson, who was forced to miss the defeat at Chelsea with a chest infection, was replaced after 25 minutes by Manuel da Costa due to a knee injury.

Despite finding themselves two goals down and without their captain, the visitors enjoyed good spells of possession.

They had a golden chance to reduce the arrears after half an hour when the City backline parted to allow Keane a clear run on goal.

Ireland’s leading all time scorer was left one on one with Joe Hart, but like last week against Chelsea, Keane wasted his chance, shooting straight at England’s number one.

City were all over the place defensively and they failed to deal with a simple ball into the box a minute later, Joleon Lescott handled, but Ba reacted well to drill the ball past Hart.

The second half began slowly, but 10 minutes in City almost went two goals clear when Mario Balotelli curled an effort onto the bar from the edge of the area.

Grant moved Ba onto the left hand side of midfield and Boa Morte into the centre as the Hammers sought to negate the threat of City in the middle of the park.

The move seemed to work as they enjoyed more possession and from a corner da Costa forced Hart into a decent save after 60 minutes.

However City came close to extending their lead when Silva beat the Hammers offside trap and rounded Green who did well to delay the Spaniard.

The winger played in Balotelli, but his effort was cleared off the line by Tomkins, as Jonathan Spector cleared the danger.

Carlton Cole came on for Keane after 66 minutes and West Ham continued to press without creating chances.

Grant threw on Victor Obinna to add further attacking impetus, but he was rarely given the ball as West Ham failed to find the breakthrough and what could have been a vital point.

The Hammers host Blackburn on Saturday, before travelling to Wigan and then take on Sunderland at Upton Park in the final game of the season. The east Londoners should aim for a minimum of seven points, which should be enough to see them survive.

West Ham: Green, Jacobsen, Gabbidon, Upson, Tomkins, Boa Morte, Sears, Hitzlsperger, Spector, Keane, Ba.

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