There was no late drama required this time for Manchester City as they secured their second Premier League title in three years thanks to a 2-0 victory over West Ham at the Etihad. At the end of a title race that has seen more twists and turns than any other in recent memory, it ended in something of a procession for the new champions of England. While Liverpool in the end fulfilled their part of the bargain by beating Newcastle, City never looked like succumbing to a defeat required for a most spectacular final momentum shift. Against a West Ham side with little to play for and offering little to worry City, a goal either side of half-time from Samir Nasri and Vincent Kompany proved decisive.
City have been top for just 14 days this season, but they hit the front at just the right time and have maintained their consistency as those around them have stumbled. City already had the comfort of Liverpool losing at Anfield when Nasri drilled in a fine effort from 20 yards to put them in front. And when Kompany added a second less than five minutes after the restart the title was theirs.
It was a moment of redemption from City’s captain, who must have feared he had cost his side the title mere weeks ago when his error allowed Liverpool to score a late winner that made the Merseysiders favorites heading into the final weeks of the season. But Kompany has been a part of a fine response from City that sees them finish the season with five-straight wins. While they end the campaign with a sensational 102 goals scored -- just one shy of the Premier League record -- their improved defensive performance late in the campaign has been equally important. Great credit, too, will rightly go to manager Manuel Pellegrini, who joins an elite club of managers to win the title in their first season in England to add to the League Cup won earlier in the campaign.
For their final match of the season, City were able to call upon the man whose late heroics captured the title in such memorable fashion two years ago, Sergio Aguero. It was his fellow Argentinean, Pablo Zabaleta, though, who was playing a major role offensively in the early stages, just as he had done throughout the victory over Aston Villa in midweek that enabled City to have some margin for error on Sunday.
A pull-back from Zabaleta was volleyed over the crossbar by David Silva, while the full-back also had an early appeal for a penalty waved away. Edin Dzeko, whose goals have proved so important late in the campaign, was heavily involved, but on this occasion he couldn’t find his range and twice fired over the bar.
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But any tension that might have developed had the score continued to remain goalless was staved off in the 39th minute. West Ham hinted at their lack of intensity for the fixture when they allowed Nasri to drift forward toward the edge of the box, allowing the Frenchman to line up a shot that he delivered with power and movement to take it past the full-stretch dive of Adrian.
The lead was so nearly doubled with the final kick of the first half. Again West Ham gave too much space to a City player, this time Silva, whose effort was deflected up against the crossbar off the boot of Andy Carroll.
Any hope that Carroll might have been able to do his former club, Liverpool, the greatest of favors, was all-but extinguished, though, just after the interval. The big striker missed his attempted headed clearance from a corner, the ball struck Dzeko and fell nicely for Kompany to turn and fire into the net from six yards out.
Although Liverpool were to come back from their early deficit to get the win they needed, there was never a sense that City were going to let things slip. A club that was for so long renowned for spectacular failures and even in victory making things mighty difficult for themselves, have now become a stable big club, both on and off the pitch.
Aguero mishit when handed a straightforward chance to make it 3-0, but the rest of the second-half was played out in utter comfort for the hosts. The final whistle was greeted by celebrations form the City players, before being hurried off the pitch as their fans poured down from the stands.