MANCHESTER CITY 2 WEST HAM UNITED 0
WEST Ham manager Sam Allardyce leapt to the defence of midfielder Cheikou Kouyate after his flailing elbow left Manchester City’s David Silva needing oxygen treatment on the pitch.
Silva needed almost 10 minutes of attention for a suspected broken cheekbone and neck injuries following the second-half incident before being taken to hospital for further examination.
The flashpoint soured an otherwise positive day for City, who responded to last week’s resounding derby defeat to Manchester United to take a firmer grip on a Premier League top-four place.
For West Ham, a spectacular James Collins own goal and Sergio Aguero’s strike inflicted a sixth defeat in their last nine fixtures, though Allardyce denied Kouyate had laced a poor display with malice.
“Accidental. It was innocuous. I didn’t think it was a foul,” he said. “Everybody thinks it is a more serious attack from Cheikhou than it was. It wasn’t deliberate at all. It happened behind him and he didn’t think he’d done anything.”
City boss Manuel Pellegrini agreed with Allardyce that Senegal international Kouyate had not deliberately hurt Silva.
“I always think that a player doesn’t want to damage another player,” said Pellegrini. “The referee was so near and he decided he was unintentional. Nothing more happens.”
City took the lead in bizarre fashion after 18 minutes when Hammers centre-back Collins attempted to cut out a Jesus Navas cross but instead sent it looping over goalkeeper Adrian and in off the crossbar.
Aguero scored the home side’s second with his 20th league goal of the season nine minutes before the interval, swapping passes with Navas before steering past Adrian.
City lie seven points ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool in the race for a Champions League place, although the Reds have a game in hand. West Ham are 10th, with just two league wins since Christmas.