West Ham stunned Manchester City on Saturday 2-1 at the Etihad, getting two goals as a stake early and then surviving a blistering second half to end the Citizens' perfect run in the Premier League. Victor Moses and Diafra Sakho got the goals for the Hammers but the men of the match were goalkeeper Adrian and defender Winston Reid, who both made big stops in the second half to preserve the win.
It will go down not only as one of West Ham's best results of the year -- but one of the best games seen in England this season to date. For this was a massive upset of a City team that until this week, had been sweeping teams aside in the Premiership. But West Ham had yet to lose on the road this year, a remarkable run that had seen them take down Arsenal and Liverpool in impressive fashion. And at the outset, the Hammers seemed ready to repeat the trick at the expense of a top-of-the-table City side reeling from a home loss to Juventus in the Champions League midweek.
Moses got the Hammers going after only 6 minutes, with Dimitri Payet again at the heart of the Hammers' attack. With City in retreat, Payet collected a long ball from the back, thought about the shot, then pushed the ball right for Moses to run onto. With Eliaquim Mangala backing off, Moses simply shot the ball at the near post past Joe Hart. The strike silenced the Etihad crowd, and it was the first goal City had conceded in the league this year. In fact, City's league streak had extended to a stunning nine hours and 30 minutes when Moses snapped it.
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"This team is the best is the league," Hammers manager Slaven Bilic said of Man City.
"We knew we would have to score goals and run as a unit like crazy and also be lucky when needed because it is very difficult to stop them for 90 minutes but we did it."
City came roaring back with de Bruyne and Navas feeding Sergio Aguero seemingly at will -- but chances kept being spurned. Aguero latched on to a poor defensive header from Aaron Cresswell, and with Adrian on the ground, had only to put the shot on frame in the ninth minute -- but missed wide.
De Bruyne was everywhere, a relentless presence switching sides in the attack, but City badly missed the extra guile of David Silva, who was a late scratch after suffering an injury in the warmup. The fleet Navas challenges defenses but his crosses are poor, and too often Winston Reid or Carl Jenkinson were able to get in the way to cut out the danger. Reid made perhaps the stop of the first half, plucking a cross from de Bruyne right off Aguero's laces with the net begging. The Argentine, stunned, swung at the shot only to find the ball was no longer there, and nearly screwed himself into the turf.
Still, with all of City's possession and attacking intent, you might have thought they would have done more in the half. Instead, it was the Hammers who pressed the advantage, sliding home a sloppy goal off a corner kick on the half hour. Payet served in a dangerous ball that Reid rose up to knock down for Pedro Obiang. With both Nicolas Otamendi and Elaquim Mangala caught wrong-sided, Obiang was able to flick the ball over the Sakho, who was in the right place at the right time to poke home at the near post.
But de Bruyne would get one back just before the break. Collecting the ball at the far right side of the box, Aguero sent over a lovely chip to de Bruyne in space. He took a touch to tap back and then blew a low, fizzing ball in at the post, past the despairing Adrian.
The goals sent City into the locker room with the momentum, and they showed it right off the restart, launching a 45-minute barrage punctuated by a series of fantastic saves by Adrian and body blocks from nearly every man in a claret shirt.
''I think we played too fast in the second half, too rushed,'' City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. ''You must be more calm but when you are two goals down, it is difficult. We had a lot of chances to score.''
As time ground down, the Hammers barely got out of their own penalty area (to say nothing of their own half) yet City were left frustrated by this old-school, bodies-on-the-line West Ham defense. Credit Bilic for this ferocious organization and this brave heart against a rally that would have cut other teams to ribbons. Adrian stopped Yaya Toure with one hand, then tipped over a laser from de Bruyne. Reid stopped shots with his feet, back and torso. And captain Mark Noble was literally hauling his teammates to their feet in a desperate attempt to hold the Sky Blues at bay.
When the whistle blew, the Hammers collapsed, spent. But Bilic pumped his fists, loosened his tie, and fixed that thousand-yard stare on the next game. Things are getting very interesting for this East London side.
Information from Goal.com and The Associated Press was used in this report.