Start as you mean to go on… City kicked-off our Premier League title defence in style with a superb 5-0 victory at West Ham. A Raheem Sterling hat-trick, plus a Gabriel Jesus strike and Sergio Aguero penalty, ignited the Champions’ 2019/20 campaign, as Pep Guardiola’s men extended our league winning streak to 15 by continuing our excellent record at the London Stadium. City have a 100% record at the home of the Hammers, having won all four visits, scoring 22 and conceding just one, and the season opener proved another memorable affair for our tenth successive opening weekend triumph.
What happened The opening exchanges proved fairly uneventful, as both sides eased into the new campaign. West Ham dominated the early action without threatening until the eighth minute, when Mike Dean waved away a penalty claim, as Manuel Lanzini went to ground, having dispossessed Premier League debutant Rodrigo. Heeding the warning, City stepped up a gear and Riyad Mahrez – making his first start of 2019/20, after guiding Algeria to Africa Cup of Nations glory this summer – cut inside and fizzed a low effort towards the far corner, which Lukasz Fabianski did well to tip wide. David Silva then went close and Mahrez struck the side-netting, before the breakthrough arrived on 23 minutes. Kyle Walker latched onto Mahrez’s inch-perfect through-ball before crossing for Gabriel Jesus to convert at the near post. With the momentum, City went in search of a second, threatening on several occasions with our trademark rapid counter-attack. Kevin De Bruyne forced Fabianski into a stop, while Gabriel Jesus could not generate enough lift on his clipped effort to double his and City’s tally on the stroke of half-time. West Ham opportunities meanwhile were few and far between with Sebastien Haller’s tame overhead kick the closest the Hammers came to a leveller in the opening 45 minutes. City continued where we left off after the restart and doubled the advantage inside six minutes, as De Bruyne powered his way through the centre before releasing Sterling, who coolly slotted through Fabianski’s legs to continue his fine scoring form. City thought we’d added a third a minute later when Gabriel Jesus finished off a glorious team move involving Silva and Sterling – only for the effort to be ruled out by VAR for offside. Buoyed, West Ham rallied and Issa Diop almost halved the deficit, heading over the bar, before Ederson was called into action to produce a sensational double-save to deny Chicharito and then Lanzini. City responded by adding a sumptuous third, as Mahrez floated the ball over the top to Sterling, who controlled before dinking the ball beautifully over Fabianski. Sergio Aguero bagged his first of the season with five minutes remaining, converting from the spot at the second attempt with the penalty retaken, after Mahrez had been upended by Diop. Sterling then added the icing to the cake in injury time, slotting beyond Fabianski to complete his treble.
Man of the Match Only one winner! Carrying on where he left off in the Fourmidables campaign, Sterling continued his excellent scoring form with a fabulous hat-trick - his six, seventh and eighth goals of six games in 2019/20. A threat throughout, he was unfortunate not to add an assist to his name too, ruled out for offside. A sign of things to come, let's hope! With his assist nipped away from him and appointed penalty taker Aguero introduced from the bench, Sterling could have been forgiven to have felt a little frustrated, despite his two goals. In the dying embers, his efforts were rewarded and he tucked away his third goal with aplomb - the joy on his face evident for all to see. A composed finish - further evidence of his growing maturity - and the least he deserved.
Up next City have a rare week between games and plenty of time to prepare for Tottenham Hotspur’s visit to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday 17 August at 5:30pm BST.
West Ham (0): Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Balbuena, Cresswell; Rice, Wilshere (Snodgrass, 55’); Antonio (Fornals, 45’), Lanzini, Anderson (Chicharito, 65’), Haller
Manchester City (5): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Rodri, De Bruyne (Gündogan, 79’), David Silva (Foden, 79’); Mahrez, Sterling, Gabriel Jesus (Agüero, 68’)
Goals: 0-1, Gabriel Jesus (25’), 0-2, Sterling (52’), 0-3, Sterling (75’), 0-4, Agüero (84’), 0-5, Sterling (90’)
Referee: Mike Dean. Bookings: Balbuena (60’), Anderson (62’), Walker (83´)