Manchester City needed two late goals to hold off West Ham’s valiant effort and secure a 3-1 victory at the London Stadium to maintain their lead in the Premier League.
After latching onto Julian Alvarez’s excellent pass 14 minutes from the end, Bernardo Silva handed the champions their first lead. Erling Haaland then completed the feat with a well-placed goal as West Ham pushed for an equaliser.
Earlier, James Ward-Prowse headed home from Vladimir Coufal’s cross for his second goal since signing in the summer, giving David Moyes’ team a lead that put them on course to pass City at the top of the table.
The hosts suffered their first loss of the year thanks to Jeremy Doku’s wonderfully executed individual goal just seconds after halftime as City took control of a tricky scenario to keep their unblemished record.
After only seven minutes, West Ham was in danger, but they were saved by the bravery of Tomas Soucek and Alphonse Areola. First, Rodri got a break from a corner and hammered a far-post header at goal, which the keeper did a commendable job of stopping.
As Soucek stuck out his chest and deflected the shot with his shoulder, Haaland’s shot was blocked on the line before Reuben Dias’s attempt was superbly deflected by the custodian.
Jarrod Bowen’s corner was deftly flicked on by Soucek at the near post and narrowly missed Nayef Aguerd’s head as he sprinted in to score for the hosts.
West Ham was mainly contained within of City’s own half as they searched for the crucial pass but were unsuccessful. After finding space to connect with Josko Gvardiol’s cross, Haaland fired wide, and Rodri appeared to be doing it all by himself when he took the ball to the edge of the box and curled a right-footed effort, but it arched weakly and was easily stopped by Areola.
As the first half went on, the hosts tightened their hold, and when their chance presented itself, they ruthlessly seized it.
Doku gave the ball away wide on City’s left side, and West Ham swiftly and purposefully attacked the flank. Coufal was given room to run into, and as his outswinging cross entered the box, Ward-Prowse was crouching low to direct his header past Ederson and into the corner.
The quick response from City should have resulted in an immediate equaliser. Doku attempted to atone for his mistakes by cutting inside Coufal on the left and crossing for Haaland down the ground. However, Haaland was unable to make sufficient contact to get the ball past Aguerd, who shoved it off the goal line. A sea of claret and blue jerseys stopped Phil Foden’s left-footed strike as West Ham finished the first half.
After the interval, it only took the champs 40 seconds to tie the score. When Doku caught it wide near the left sideline, he looked up to see that there wasn’t much within the box.
Instead, he pushed Coufal into the area from behind, stood him up, and slipped inside with a beautiful right-foot touch before rolling it inside Areola’s far post in one quick motion.
The city was upbeat. Alvarez’s free-kick off the post was followed by Haaland’s left-footed volley from 10 yards after being set up by Rodri’s magnificent chipped pass, but Areola’s powerful right hand push into the air prevented them from taking the lead.
Then it was West Ham’s time to come within a hair’s breadth. Michail Antonio outran Dias in a foot sprint after Lucas Paqueta’s probing pass, but at the vital second, he took a slightly heavy touch, allowing Ederson to smother.
The hosts were suddenly in control. Kurt Zouma’s thunderous header from the ensuing corner forced an incredible diving save from Ederson after Emerson identified an opening in the centre of City’s defenders to sprint into.
With 15 minutes remaining, City took the lead for the first time, and Alvarez’s vision and touch were key factors in this success. Silva passed it to him close to the edge of the box, where he was superbly picked out by Alvarez’s chip as he charged forward. Although Silva had the ball back after Aguerd narrowly missed intercepting it with his head, Silva dinked it into the corner beyond Areola.
When Haaland attempted to connect with a cross from Kyle Walker, West Ham’s custodian made an additional excellent save.
However, the Norwegian would not accept defeat. As West Ham pressed forward in the waning minutes, Silva broke with the ball and sent it over for Haaland to sweep calmly home and seal a good victory.