Westham Forced Man City to a Draw to Push Title Decider Till Last Day
Riyad Mahrez missed a late penalty as Manchester City drew 2-2 at the London Stadium to ensure they kept a stranglehold on the title by remaining undefeated against West Ham United in the Premier League (PL) since 2015.
After a pre-match send-off for club captain Mark Noble, an emotionally-heightened London Stadium saw the visitors dominate the opening exchanges. First, Oleksandr Zinchenko found himself deterred by the recovering Declan Rice, before Fernandinho and Aymeric Laporte each struck over the bar, and Gabriel Jesus later saw his shot blocked. The visitors might have also had a penalty when the latter was bundled over in the area.
Still, West Ham’s set-up proved to be dangerous, as they countered clinically twice before the break. Pablo Fornals picked out Jarrod Bowen, who rounded Ederson to ensure the ‘Hammers’ had scored in every home league game of a top-flight season for only the second time. It then got better for the hosts, as after winning the ball high up the field, Michail Antonio fed Bowen, who doubled the lead when he finished clinically in first-half stoppage time.
Manchester City arrived on the back of five straight wins by three or more goals, and seemed a different proposition in the second half, knowing their fourth title under Pep Guardiola was on the line. Just three minutes after the restart, the deficit was cut when Jack Grealish volleyed home a Rodri knockdown. West Ham then should have restored their two-goal advantage, but after Antonio chipped wide, the hosts were punished when Vladimír Coufal headed a City free-kick into his own net.
That moment saw Guardiola’s men push for a winner, and five minutes from time they were awarded a penalty when Craig Dawson tripped Jesus. However, Mahrez saw his penalty saved by Łukasz Fabiański, who dived correctly to his left to preserve West Ham a point. The results mean West Ham will finish in the top seven for the first time in consecutive PL seasons. Meanwhile, Manchester City will secure the title if Liverpool loses to Southampton on Tuesday.