Convincing City crush sorry Hammers

A poor and off-the-pace West Ham were tonight dispatched with relative ease at Eastlands to maintain our 100% home record. Sporadic attacks from the away side rarely troubled us as an invigorated Martin Petrov inspired a comfortable 3-1 home win. Former Iron Carlos Tevez scored a brace to keep us within touch of the big four, and the attacking nature of the performance would've pleased manager Mark Hughes no end.

The inclusion of Petrov was the only change from the midweek League Cup win over Fulham, with Stevie Ireland missing through illness. We lined up in what appeared to be a very loose 4-4-2, with the inform Bellamy partnering Tevez up top, and Nigel de Jong providing the muscle in midfield alongside Gareth Barry. The visitors were without influential centre-half Matt Upson, with recent signing Manuel de Costa coming in. Radoslav Kovac replaced Valon Behrami in midfield.

We started the game extremely brightly and took the lead within five minutes. A long cross-field ball to the left wing found Petrov via the head of Barry, the Bulgarian drove to the byline and whipped a low ball back for Tevez, free of a marker after Tomkins made a near-post dash, to tap home from a couple of yards out. Wayne Bridge, who looked lively all evening going forward, could have doubled our advantage shortly after, making a darted run into the final third and testing Green with a strong shot.

Tevez should have had a second within ten minutes, and a hat-trick within fifteen, smashing a left-footed effort wide after a brilliant passing move involving Barry, Petrov and Bellamy. The Welshman then slipped Petrov in on the overlap and a cross caught Wright-Phillips on the way to the South American, who then powered a shot over from the edge of the area when he should've perhaps done better. Inbetween these two chances West Ham right-back Julien Faubert was the subject of a miracle of sorts, having been on the end of a bad tackle by Lescott he somehow made an instant recovery in order to chastise the official. Poor form.

In truth, we appeared to be threatening to run riot. Bellamy left Faubert for dead and could have done better with a cross. SWP skinned Ilunga to cross for Tevez who might have had another and we were looking invincible. In typical City fashion, though, we let the opposition back into it needlessly. Wright-Phillips gave away a free-kick just in our half, a hoof into the area was only half headed away by Lescott and Kovac's mishit shot was calmly flicked into the goal by Cole for an undeserved equaliser.

The Hammers threatened to up their game for a short while, Cole forcing a good save from Given with a header from the edge of the box after a good ball in from the right. We began to make unforced errors and the nerves looked to be setting in. Just after the half-hour, however, we retook the lead. Nigel de Jong went up for a header a few yards outside of their penalty area and we were awarded a free-kick. Petrov stepped up and curled a low effort to the right of the outstretched Green after looking more likely to go for power.

The goal saw a return of our earlier confidence and we could have added a couple more before the interval. The lively Petrov found Tevez who took his man one way and then the other before a good save from the England goalkeeper. Joleon Lescott then headed just wide from the resulting corner. A terrific move followed, Tevez finding compatriot Zabaleta who whipped in a superb half-volleyed cross for Bellamy to head, again saved by Green. The former Norwich man then made his third stop in as many minutes after a stinging Petrov volley from twenty yards.

The second half could never have really hoped to live up to the first, one in which we were unluckily to go in not winning by at least three or four goals. Chasing the lead West Ham ran the first ten or so minutes after the restart but never really created any clear-cut chances. The petulant Diamanti earned himself a booking close to the hour for needlessly kicking the ball away after a free-kick was awarded against him. Wayne Bridge followed him into the referee's notepad shortly after but there was little in the way of chances.

The final goal game just after the hour. Bellamy whipped an inswinging free-kick into the box and Tevez found himself completely unmarked to cushion home a second of the evening. Zola will quite rightly have some serious questions to ask of his defence, all four of them, particularly de Costa, looked poor all night. Bellamy could have added to the scoreline a couple of minutes later, blazing a Wright-Phillips cross over.

The men from Upton Park did rally a little once we'd got our third. Noble tested Given from distance, and Diamanti shot just wide following a slip from Bridge, then forcing a save after a corner shortly after. With a two-goal lead the tempo of our play did drop a bit, but we still had a few efforts. Bellamy again shot over after a good move involving Barry & Bridge, and substitute Roque Santa Cruz, making his debut after a £17.5m move from Blackburn in the summer, put an effort just wide after yet more great work from Petrov. Micahel Johnson also made a very late appearance and looked relatively lean.

Overall it was a commanding performance, and certainly our best of the season so far. West Ham are no mugs but we looked absolutely superior to them in every area of the field. Zabaleta was solid at right-back, Toure imperious in the middle, de Jong gobbled up everything, Bridge & Barry seem to be forming a great understanding, Bellamy was workmanlike as we're coming to expect, and Tevez very lively. For me, though, Petrov ran the game, absolutely brilliant, when he's on top of his game he's unplayable, and we have real options down that side now, so much so that Robinho might not make the side on merit.

It would probably be unfair to dally for too long on negatives, we've won a game with ease after all. Lescott did get caught out a couple of times, though. He looks a bit unfit to me, but gelling in a new defence will take time. He was definitely lucky to be awarded a free-kick after Cole had muscled him off the ball, leading to a disallowed equaliser, though in truth our other defenders had stopped on hearing the whistle. Wright-Phillips looked quite leggy, too, but i'm perhaps being overly picky.

If we play like we did tonight we'll beat most teams in this division, home or away. We're starting to look like a team at last and we have several players who can cause damage going forwards, aswell as more than one system. Each win will see confidence build and build and we're not only winning but over the last few weeks, a drab win over Fulham aside, we're doing so in style. It's refreshing to know that players like Zabaleta, Petrov, de Jong, even Bellamy can come in and influence games so much. We could quite easily have scored six or seven tonight. Quite simply, we were bloody excellent.

Given, Zabaleta, Bridge, Toure, Lescott, de Jong, Wright-Phillips (Santa Cruz '80), Barry (Johnson '89), Tevez, Bellamy, Petrov

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