Collison match-winner for West Ham

West Ham 1 Man City 0

West Ham 1 Man City 0

West Ham’s Jack Collison was the match-winner as Manchester City’s European success in midweek was quickly replaced by familiar struggles in the Barclays Premier League.

City dumped FC Copenhagen out of the UEFA Cup on Thursday but again saw their domestic ambitions dented by a lacklustre display at the Boleyn Ground, where Collison’s 71st-minute effort sealed the points.

Robinho was sorely off-form for City, drifting in and out of the game and tapping wide from two yards, but they nearly stole a point when Elano’s 90th-minute free-kick clipped the post.

Herita Ilunga almost created a breakthrough after eight minutes, cutting inside his man and curling a low ball into the penalty area.

Carlton Cole was the target but he was just unable to make a connection and Given collected comfortably.

Two minutes later, former Hammer Craig Bellamy, roundly booed by the home fans, found space for the first time and floated a cross towards the far post, forcing a corner.

Scott Parker, meanwhile, earned a 10th-minute booking for a reckless challenge on Micah Richards. The England man left the field minutes later in favour of striker Felipe Caicedo, forcing a reshuffle.

After 14 minutes, Robinho almost had the ball in the net from the daintiest of touches.

A mistake by Matthew Upson gifted Stephen Ireland possession and when his cross was cleared Vincent Kompany volleyed for goal.

His shot was weak but Robinho, given onside, flicked his boot at the ball and almost succeeded in steering it past the sprawling Robert Green.

The Brazilian then missed a sitter 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.

West Ham had the chance to reverse the pressure with a free-kick in a dangerous position but Radoslav Kovac, on his full home debut, headed high and wide from David Di Michele’s fine delivery.

With half an hour gone, a swift break from Valon Behrami created a shooting chance for Cole but he dallied over his attempt and ended up blazing over.

It was Behrami’s last contribution before leaving the pitch on a stretcher having twisted his knee attempting a tackle.

But the Hammers continued to press, with Given again called upon when Di Michele hit a firm shot from 10 yards following some superb approach play around the City area.

Just 90 seconds after the restart Collison was inches away from capping a fine West Ham move with the opener.

The Wales international started the attack with some good, aggressive running, before passing to Cole and continuing his run.

Cole found Di Michele with a crisp first touch and the latter’s cross curled invitingly towards Collison.

The angle was tough and he just failed to connect with an attempted volley and the danger was cleared.

City fed the ball to Robinho on the right but, despite some customary stepovers, the enigmatic forward remained short on inspiration.

Indeed, the hosts were still playing the better football, with another pacy attack – this time set in motion by Ilunga’s neat back-heel – ending with Parker’s goalbound shot being charged down.

Robinho’s disappointing day took another downturn in the 63rd-minute when he took responsibility for an inviting free-kick and promptly drove his effort straight into the stands.

The home side’s failure to create something clear-cut must have frustrated the fans but, predictably, Bellamy’s substitution with 25 minutes to play gave them something to cheer.

With 71 minutes gone, they were in even finer voice as they celebrated Collison’s perfectly executed finish.

Savio, on as Behrami’s replacement, claimed the assist after his swerving effort forced 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 with the side of his foot to beat the scrambling goalkeeper.

Substitute Elano teed up Robinho with a clever back-heel as City tried to respond but once again his attempt flew wide.

Caicedo was not having it any better, twice missing the goal from good positions.

For the Hammers, injuries were now the chief concern, with Cole moving gingerly after turning his ankle.

A late free-kick almost made it 1-1 when Elano’s flighted effort struck the post via Lucas Neill’s head, but West Ham held on.

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