West Ham 2 Manchester City 2: Aguero and Valencia steal the show
Enner Valencia and Sergio Aguero netted braces as Manchester City twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.
Ecuador striker Valencia opened the scoring after just 53 seconds at Upton Park, Aguero promptly equalising from the penalty spot.
Valencia struck again early in the second half and it looked like that effort would prove decisive until the Argentina international bagged a close-range leveller with nine minutes remaining for his fifth goal in four league matches.
City have now only won one of their last eight away games in the league and trail leaders Leicester City by three points, while West Ham – who are unbeaten in nine at home in the league – stay sixth, with Aguero’s leveller denying them the chance to move above Manchester United.
The match got off to a surprising start when Cheikhou Kouyate drove past Yaya Toure down the left and saw his cross deflect off Fabian Delph before falling perfectly at the feet of Valencia, who drilled his shot past Joe Hart from 12 yards.
Aguero almost netted a stunning equaliser for City when he latched on to Toure’s pass and brilliantly chipped Adrian from a tight angle, only to be denied by the inside of the post.
But Aguero was to find the score-sheet on nine minutes. After he and David Silva had exchanged a slick one-two, Carl Jenkinson brought the Argentine down as he drove into the box.
Aguero calmly sent Adrian the wrong way from the spot, before a miserable day for Jenkinson got worse as he came off with an injury, giving Sam Byram, signed last week from Leeds United, an earlier than expected debut.
West Ham thought they had got back in front when Dimitri Payet unleashed a brilliant free-kick that arrowed towards the top corner, with Hart making a magnificent one-handed save to keep the scores level at half-time.
The hosts threatened early in the second half as Michail Antonio headed just wide from close range after a Mark Noble cross.
City went even closer to finding the game’s third goal when Delph’s bouncing shot struck the foot of the post, before West Ham did score in unusual fashion on 56 minutes.
A quickly taken long throw by Antonio completely caught out Nicolas Otamendi and Valencia got in behind to stab a low shot past Hart.
Alex Song was just off-target with a long-range effort as West Ham continued to trouble City, who brought on Raheem Sterling and Kelechi Iheanacho in an attempt to reverse the momentum.
Just as it looked like the away side were heading for defeat, they struck on 81 minutes. Iheanacho’s run into the box was curtailed by Aaron Cresswell, but the defender’s attempted clearance fell at Aguero’s feet and he finished with ease from close range, denying the hosts a double over Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
West Ham almost grabbed a dramatic winner right at the death, but Kouyate’s header from a deep Payet free-kick cannoned back off the crossbar.
Key Opta stats:
-Enner Valencia scored West Ham’s fifth goal inside the opening minute in Premier League history and their first since Kevin Nolan against Fulham in September 2012.
-Valencia’s opening goal was the second quickest goal (53 seconds) in the Premier League this season – Matt Ritchie’s goal for Bournemouth against Spurs was timed at 49 seconds.
-Sergio Aguero has been involved in eight goals (six goals, two assists) in his eight league appearances against West Ham.
-Aguero has scored 14 goals in 10 away Premier League appearances in London.
-West Ham’s Carl Jenkinson has conceded three penalties this season, more than any other player.
-All of Man City’s four penalties in the Premier League this season have been taken by different players (Yaya Toure, Wilfried Bony, Aleksandar Kolarov and Aguero).
-The Hammers have scored three goals via thrown-ins in the Premier League this season – Arsenal are the only other team to score via this method (1).
-This is the first Premier League season since 2002/03 that West Ham have remained unbeaten against Man City (W1 D1).
-Aguero scored his 89th and 90th goals in his 136th Premier League appearance – the same number it took Ruud van Nistelrooy to hit the 90-goal milestone. Only Alan Shearer (90 in 113 games) has done it quicker.