Collison leaves Hughes feeling blue

MONEY can buy you almost everything, but not, apparently, an away victory.

Manchester City’s oil-soaked riches might have made them the envy of the vast majority of their Premier League rivals but their record on the road remains the stuff of nightmares. This dismal defeat extended City’s winless run in away league football to 11 matches — a scandalous statistic for a club of their resources.

It says everything about the depths plumbed by Mark Hughes’ club away from Eastlands that their manager suggested this was one of their better performances on the road, and it was scarcely credible that this was the same team that had held Liverpool to a 1-1- draw at Anfield last week.

“It was frustrating because we created good chances in the game and there were long periods when we were in the ascendancy,” said Hughes.

“The away form has been a concern all year. We have done better in recent games and we were excellent against Liverpool.

“Today we haven’t been able to get that positive result. Perhaps we’ve played a little too much like the home team on the road this year and we’ve been caught on the break. I think that happened again here.”

City’s new-found status will mean that few will shed many tears. Instead, there will simply be astonishment that a side boasting such a vast array of talent can muster just one shot worthy of the name, Elano’s injury-time free-kick, which clipped a post.

Robinho was again dreadful here, missing a succession of good chances, most obviously in the 22nd minute.

The hard-working Bellamy was the architect, breaking free on the left byline before cutting the ball across goal for Ireland.

The midfielder dragged it first time to the far post where it fell to Robinho, who missed the target from just two yards.

Instead, the Brazilian was given a lesson in finishing from West Ham youngster Jack Collison, who netted with 19 minutes remaining.

Savio, West Ham’s big money January signing, claimed the assist after his swerving effort forced Shay Given to parry the ball back into the penalty box.

But the finish was equally impressive as Collison lifted the rebound into the top corner to beat the scrambling goalkeeper.

It was a sweet moment for Collison, who earned praise from his manager Gianfranco Zola. “It is the beauty of football. Sometimes if you have passion and if you have belief you can be successful and I think Jack Collison is an example of all of that,” he said.

“Jack is unbelievable, he’s getting better and better. He’s 19 and he’s playing nearly every week. He’s got a very good attitude.”

The only sour note for Zola was a serious-looking injury to Valon Behrami towards the end of the first half. The midfielder left the field on a stretcher and breathing through an oxygen mask after twisting his knee and ankle attempting a tackle. He will be assessed today.

WEST HAM (4-4-2): Green 6, Neill 7, Tomkins 7, Upson 6, Ilunga 6, Behrami 6 (Nsereko 43, 6), Parker 8, Collison 7, Kovac 7 (Spector 83, 6), Di Michele 6 (Lopez 87, 5), Cole 7.

Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Sears, Stanislas, Payne.

MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): Given 6, Richards 5 (Caicedo 15, 6), Onuoha 6, Dunne 6, Bridge 6, Zabaleta 6, De Jong 7 (Bojinov 89, 6), Kompany 7, Ireland 6, Bellamy 6 (Elano 66, 6), Robinho 4.

Subs Not Used: Hart, Vassell, Garrido, Berti.

REFEREE: Mike Dean (Wirral) 6: Controlled matters well enough, dispensing cards only when necessary.

MATCH RATING: ** Not a classic, but West Ham were worthy winners. City’s away record is beyond abysmal.

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