Manchester City cruise past West Ham in EPL

Manchester: Manchester City showed no ill effects from the recent Champions League ban imposed by UEFA, rolling to a comfortable 2-0 victory over West Ham United in late-season Premier League action.

The Citizens on Wednesday night dominated in virtually every statistical category at City of Manchester Stadium in a match that was originally scheduled for February 9 but was postponed due to inclement weather.

Pep Guardiola’s men controlled possession 78 per cent of the time and attempted 20 overall shots and seven shots on target, compared to three and zero, respectively, for the visitors, showing no rust despite a three-week layoff.

Man City had two chances to take the lead in the early going, but Gabriel Jesus squandered a pair of one-on-one opportunities against West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski.

Even so, it always seemed like it was just a matter of time before the home side’s superior quality would translate into goals.

The first came at the half-hour mark when Kevin De Bruyne set up Rodrigo for a close-range score.

In the second half, De Bruyne virtually sealed the victory when he scored from inside the area off a pass from Bernardo Silva in the 62nd minute.

With the result on the field never in doubt, the fans seemed less concerned about the game than about the two-season European competition ban and 30-million-euro ($32.5-million) fine imposed this month on Man City by UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, for violations of club licensing and financial fair-play rules.

If upheld on appeal, the English-league powerhouse would be banned from competing in any UEFA competition, including the Champions League and Europe’s second-tier club competition, the Europa League, until 2022-2023.

UEFA’s decision has no bearing on Man City’s 2019-2020 season, with the club set to take on Real Madrid next week in the first leg of their round of 16 clash in the Champions League.

The fans showed their rejection of UEFA’s ruling by holding up banners and singing chants during Wednesday night’s game.

With the win, second-place Manchester City moved four points ahead of third-place Leicester City in the Premier League standings. First-place Liverpool, however, still have a whopping 22-point lead over the Citizens with just 12 matches remaining.

West Ham, for their part, remained in 18th place with 24 points and are currently on course for relegation to England’s second division. IANS

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