Late Fernandinho strike sees Man City overtake Liverpool in Premier League

Substitute Fernandinho wrapped up the three points that took City into second place with a cooly-taken 90th-minute finish
Late Fernandinho strike sees Man City overtake Liverpool in Premier League

Manchester City's Fernandinho (second right) celebrates scoring their side's second goal

Man City 2 West Ham 1

Pep Guardiola saw his side move back above Liverpool in an increasingly tight title race, a result that confirmed the growing suspicion that the current Premier League has become a three-horse race.

Substitute Fernandinho wrapped up the three points that took City into second place with a cooly-taken 90th-minute finish, from just inside the area, after a fine flowing move involving Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus.

But fourth-placed West Ham - and the weather - made this a far from a straightforward win.

In a game badly impacted by blizzard conditions that descended on the north-west, Ilkay Gundogan shot City into a first-half lead.

His 34th-minute goal came from a simply finish, four yards out, as he loitered ahead of defender Ben Johnson and swept home Riyad Mahrez’s intelligent ball into the area.

By that stage, despite a couple of West Ham counter-attacks, it appeared that the weather would be the biggest obstacle between City and their first five-game winning streak of the season.

Heavy snow had started two hours before kick-off and continued until the end of the first half, by which time the ball was sticking on the surface and it was impossible for referee Michael Oliver to properly see pitch markings.

Fortunately for City, a 25-minute half-time interval allowed grounds staff to clear all the snow from the Etihad pitch and, with conditions improving in the second half, Guardiola’s team were permitted to continue.

In fact, on the balance of first-half chances, City could have had the contest comfortably wrapped up by the end of the first half.

Mahrez had a “goal” ruled out for a fractional offside decision while Aymeric Laporte headed a Gundogan corner against the outside of the Hammers’ post.

Just before the interval, with the snow threatening to make a farce of the game, Johnson did brilliantly to clear what looked a certain goal from Jesus off his line.

And, after Lukas Fabianski had blocked a long-range Cancelo shot, Mahrez hit the post with his follow-up.

Back underway, on a snow-free field, Aaron Cresswell performed heroics after 55 minutes, injuring himself in the process as he slid in to the post having intercepted a Jesus effort, carved out by Raheem Sterling’s superb cross.

But, having failed to find the killer second goal, City might have been made to pay on 78 minutes when the excellent Declan Rice unleashed a 25-yard shot which Ederson parried to safety.

With virtually the last kick of the game, West Ham substitute Manuel Lanzini hooked in an excellent finish from the edge of the City area for his team’s consolation that flew in off the post.

MAN CITY (4-3-3): Ederson 6; Walker 7, Dias 6, Laporte 6, Cancelo 7; Silva 6, Rodri 6, Gundogan 8; Jesus 6, Mahrez 7, Sterling 7 (Fernandinho 86).

Subs (not used): Steffen, Carson, Stones, Ake, Zinchenko, McAtee, Palmer.

WEST HAM (4–4-1-1): Fabianski 6; Johnson 7, Dawson 6, Zouma 6, Cresswell 7 (Coufal 61, 6); Fornals 7, Soucek 6, Rice 9, Masuaku 6 (Bowen 74, 6); Benrahma 6 (Lanzini 59, 7); Antonio 7.

Subs (not used): Areola, Diop, Vlasic, Noble, Kral, Yarmolenko.

Referee: M Oliver 7.

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