Manchester City began their Premier League title defence by thrashing West Ham 5-0 at the London Stadium on Saturday, August 10th. An opening goal from Gabriel Jesus, was followed by a hat-trick from Raheem Sterling, and a late penalty from Sergio Aguero, to give the defending champions a comfortable victory.
The game started evenly as West Ham seemed to match the champions in possession early on. But in the ninth minute, Man City created the first opportunity as Riyad Mahrez struck an effort at a goal, which was palmed away by goalkeeper, Lukasz Fabianski. David Silva fired wide soon after, as Mahrez again went close as City began to up the tempo.
The pressure finally told as the Manchester side took the lead in the 24th minute. A low cross by Kyle Walker, which was flicked in to the back of the net by Jesus, to put City a goal up. The visitors began to dominate soon after, creating a series of openings, but failing to add to their lead before half-time.City doubled their lead early in the second-half. A counter-attack led to Kevin De Bruyne slipping the ball through to Sterling, who slotted the ball past Fabianski to put the Sky Blues two up. Minutes later, Jesus had a goal disallowed for offside via video assistant referee (VAR), as City looked to stretch their lead.
West Ham began to get back into the game soon after, as Issa Diop headed inches over the bar, following a free-kick on the hour mark. In the 74th minute, City’s goalkeeper produced a magnificent double save, to keep out Javier Hernandez and Manuel Lanzini, as the Hammers failed to get on the scoresheet.
The away side were given a penalty in the 85th minute as Mahrez was brought down by Diop. Substitute Aguero stepped up and saw his penalty saved by Fabianski, but the referee ordered for it to be retaken, after judging that the Polish goalkeeper had stepped off his line. The Argentinian fiercely struck the spot-kick at the second attempt for his side’s fourth goal.
Sterling completed his hat-trick in the 90th minute to put the icing on the cake. The England forward ran onto a pass from Mahrez to score his team’s fifth, and seal a thumping win for his side, in their first league game of the season.
Sterling spoke about his side’s performance after the game, according to AFP. "The most important thing was to start well and get the win. Once the second goal went in, I thought we were brilliant," Sterling told BT Sport.
"It was quite difficult in the first half. Some of our touches were sloppy but once the team got into a rhythm the passes came and more chances came.
"With the players we have here there are competitions in training every day. It's a joy to put the ball in the back of the net."