A point against one of the league’s top sides, however you get it, is always a good result. Although West Ham United went 2-0 ahead they would still have been pleased with the point they gained as they ended the season in Stratford with a 2-2 draw against Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.
David Moyes made one change from the team that played at Norwich City last weekend as Tomáš Souček came into the starting line-up for the injured Saïd Benrahma. Mark Noble and Andriy Yarmolenko began their final home games for the club on the bench, while only one youngster was included in the matchday squad as Armstrong Oko-Flex also took his place amongst the substitutes.
Whilst the team would have wanted to give the ever-loyal fan base a good performance to end on, they were keen to try their very best to get the three points for their Club Captain.
To be fair to the home side, every player was on their mettle and this proved to be the case when goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański got down well to deal with Oleksandr Zinchenko’s effort, while Craig Dawson saw his unchallenged header go over the top.
Josep Guardiola’s side have a quite eye-catching style of play but West Ham were determined to keep themselves in the game. Everything the visitors were trying was matched by the Hammers’ defence but Kurt Zouma was lucky to escape unpunished when he went in on Gabriel Jesus.
The hosts were still working hard to deny the Citizens and just as Rodrigo was about to pull the trigger, Dawson prevented him from doing so and kept the scores level.
Dawson’s intervention meant that a goalkick was given and Fabiański boomed the ball up the other end and it dropped to Jarrod Bowen who showed great feet to round visiting stopper Ederson and put his side in front. As if the atmosphere wasn’t going to be good going into this game, well, it got even better!!!
Knowing that there was an incentive for them too, Guardiola’s men were on the hunt for a swift response but couldn’t find one due to more good work from the Irons.
The last time these two teams met back in October, the Carabao Cup tie was settled in the home sides’ favour by a penalty shootout after a goalless draw. This time however, they were cheering again as Bowen extended their advantage just before the break.
Being 2-0 ahead can sometimes be a difficult position to be in and when referee Anthony Taylor blew for half-time, I’m sure that Moyes and his side would have been wary of the threat that their opponents could still pose.
The Premier League leaders reduced the deficit just three minutes after the restart when Jack Grealish took advantage of a favourable bounce to smash the ball past Fabiański.
The Citizens tried again for the immediate equaliser but Moyes’ side were in no mood to give their lead up easily.
Bowen was on for a hat-trick here and he could have sealed it when he motored into the box but could only send his latest shot into the side netting.
Michail Antonio had a golden chance to make the scoreline a little more comfortable and build on his goal against the Canaries last weekend when he only had Ederson to beat but somehow fired wide.
They were made to regret that missed opportunity as the visitors levelled matters when Vladimír Coufal tried to clear a Riyad Mahrez free-kick but only succeeded in heading past his own goalkeeper.
In recent months, the home fans have really taken Bowen to their hearts and now often sing about him being on fire. Well, in this game, he really was as he tried his luck again but this time he was denied by Aymeric Laporte.
On seventy seven minutes, Moyes introduced the man of the moment, as Noble replaced Manuel Lanzini.
Guardiola’s troops were in sight of three points now and were desperate to try and clinch them in order to be crowned Champions once again. They had opportunities to find a winner but with the atmosphere and what will be at stake for West Ham, they were under pressure every time they got themselves into promising positions.
Then, a challenge from Dawson resulted in a penalty after it had been spotted by the VAR official. Taylor was then advised to check the pitchside monitor and overturned his original decision.
Fabiański has saved a number of spot-kicks this season and the majority inside the stadium were desperate for him to do it again. Mahrez struck his attempt with enough power but the Pole made a great save and let me tell you, that was definitely appreciated by a loud cheer!!!
Ben Johnson and Yarmolenko were introduced as late substitutes for both Pablo Fornals and Antonio but the East Londoners held on and Noble was given a terrific send off at the end of the match.
Events in Sunday’s other matches meant that West Ham are guaranteed European football of some description again next season but they will want to finish above Manchester United and secure another UEFA Europa League place and they will try and do that as they face a trip to The American Express Community Stadium to face Brighton and Hove Albion as the 2021/22 campaign comes to an end next Sunday afternoon.