Manchester City tightened their grip on second place with a straightforward 2-1 win against West Ham on Saturday.
Sergio Aguero's first-half effort sent City on their way to a routine win which was wrapped up with 10 minutes to go when Yaya Toure powered a drive into the top left-hand corner, although Joe Hart's error allowed Andy Carroll to net a late consolation.
Roberto Mancini named Joleon Lescott, Aguero and David Silva in
his starting XI in place of Matija Nastasic, Edin Dzeko and James
Milner while Sam Allardyce’s side was unchanged from their 2-0 win over
City got off to the better start, patiently probing and
keeping the ball well, and it was their recalled Spanish playmaker Silva who had the first sight of goal, firing past the far post after a
corner was only half-cleared.
Aguero should have made it 1-0 on
21 minutes after a quick breakaway saw the ball fall to the Argentine in
the box only for his scuffed effort to strike the post.
However, he would make up for it six minutes later when he did manage to put his side ahead.
lovely interchange between Toure, Silva and Samir Nasri on the left flank culminated
in a ball being squared for Aguero who side-footed home from eight yards to make
Just two minutes later, Pablo Zabaleta could have doubled
the lead, with the full-back following up a Nasri strike only to see Jussi Jaaskelainen get down to make a fine double save.
If the first half had a laid-back, end-of-season feel to it, the start of the second half was quite the opposite. Matt Jarvis forced Zabaleta into a far-post clearance from his cross while City proved dangerous on the break.
City could have gone two up after a delightful chipped ball from Nasri found Carlos Tevez only for his effort to be blocked by Winston Reid while midway through the half Tevez again saw a strike in the six-yard box defended well by Joey O'Brien.
Nasri wasted a gilt-edged chance on 71 minutes when he let a Tevez cross slide under his foot with the goal at his mercy.
One of the better openings for West Ham fell to James Collins in the 81st minute. Jarvis' effort was blocked, only for the Welsh defender to drag it wide.
Clearly proving the difference in quality between the two sides, just a minute later Toure brushed off Gary O'Neill and smashed an effort into the top left-hand corner of the net, effectively killing off the game for his side.
The visitors grabbed a consolation goal in stoppage time as Carroll hit a right-footed effort that squirmed through Hart's legs and in.