Manchester City need generous penalty to beat West Ham

Sergio Aguero’s penalty gave Man City a 1-0 win over then visitors

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Manchester City needed the award of a soft penalty, converted by Sergio Aguero, to beat West Ham United and stay a point behind leaders Liverpool with a 1-0 win on Wednesday.

Pep Guardiola’s side dominated the game with 76 percent ball possession but West Ham defended intelligently and almost did enough to produce a surprise result.

That would, however, have been harsh on the champions, who played 120 minutes before clinching the League Cup on penalties on Sunday and spent most of this game on the ball.

“We played so well, you see the scoreline and think it was a a tough game but...we did everything and they created one shot on the target. I am delighted with the way we performed,” said Guardiola.

Yet without the penalty, it could have been a night where the Londoners handed Liverpool a three-point lead in the title race. Instead, City moved on to 68 points, while Liverpool, who hammered Watford 5-0, are on 69.

The decisive moment at the Etihad Stadium came in the 59th minute when Felipe Anderson was ruled to have brought down Bernardo Silva from behind and Aguero coolly slotted home from the spot.

“To be generous, it is a little soft, but that is too generous. It was not a penalty. If we lose this game with another action then maybe we can accept it but not that penalty,” said West Ham’s former City manager Manuel Pellegrini.

The Chilean set his West Ham team up to frustrate the hosts and they did an excellent job for most of the game, forcing City into wide areas where Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane struggled to create openings.

City camped in the visitors’ half for the opening 45 minutes but apart from David Silva going close when he hit the post after an excellent low cross, their dominance rarely threatened Lukasz Fabianski’s goal.

The visitors themselves went close after the break when substitute Manuel Lanzini found Andy Carroll at the back post, but City keeper Ederson did well to parry the forward’s well-struck effort.

Guardiola promptly threw on Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva from the bench and they changed the tempo and flow of the game.

After the penalty, Sterling went close twice to doubling the lead. He had a close-range effort blocked and scrambled away and then delivered a sweetly struck effort after cutting in from the left which was well saved by Fabianski.