Valencia 2 Aguero 2: Upton Park clash ends all square

Date published: Saturday 23rd January 2016 7:23

Sergio Aguero: Netted twice at Upton Park

Enner Valencia scored twice and Sergio Aguero did likewise as West Ham and Manchester City drew 2-2 in a classic Upton Park clash.

Valencia opened the scoring in the first minute, but the lead only lasted eight minutes as Aguero converted a penalty.

Dimitri Payet ran the show for Slaven Bilic’s hosts but was denied a superb goal by a stunning Joe Hart save.

Valencia gave the Hammers the lead again on 56 minutes after City were caught napping from a quick throw-in – but Aguero’s close-range finish ensured City left the capital with a point.

The game got off to a stunning start as the Hammers took the lead after just 53 seconds – the second fastest of the Premier League season so far.

Cheikhou Kouyate went on a driving run and ghosted past Yaya Toure before seeing his cross deflect into the path of Valencia, who gave Hart no chance with sublime right-footed finish.

City nearly drew level on seven minutes, though, when Aguero lifted a left-footed lob over Adrian, only to see the ball hit the upright and end up in the goalkeeper’s arms.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men had the momentum and won a spot-kick on eight minutes when Carl Jenkinson clumsily bundled over Aguero in the 18-yard box.

The Argentina striker picked himself up and coolly sent Adrian the wrong way, rolling his penalty kick into the bottom left-hand corner.

That was Jenkinson’s last meaningful involvement as he went off with a dead leg, leading to a Premier League debut for new signing Sam Byram, who joined from Leeds United earlier this week.

The game then settled down, with Hammers playmaker Payet dictating play in central midfield.

The Frenchman was given a chance on 32 when Martin Demichelis crudely chopped down Michail Antonio to give away a free-kick around 25 yards from goal.

Payet had barely put a foot wrong and took control of the free-kick, curling a sumptuous effort towards the top corner, only to be denied by a wonderful, one-handed save from the diving Hart.

Payet’s confidence was soaring and he tried an overhead kick on 36 minutes but was well off target.

The two teams went into the interval tied at 1-1, with the hosts running everything through Payet, who had 49 touches in the first half.

Bilic’s men were quickest into their stride after the break, and after good wing play on the right, Antonio headed a chance inches wide at the far post on 51 minutes.

City clicked into gear too and Fabian Delph went close on 55, hitting the upright with an angled left-footed drive that took a slight deflection off Byram’s heel.

It was the home fans celebrating a minute later, though, after a quick throw-in caught Nicolas Otamendi cold, allowing Valencia to nip in and poke the ball past a helpless Hart.

Jesus Navas drew a fine low save from Adrian before making way for Raheem Sterling, while Pellegrini also sent on Kelechi Iheanacho for Delph.

Victor Moses replaced Antonio for the hosts before Alex Song fizzed a 25-yard drive inches wide of the upright.

But it was Iheanacho who made the most telling contribution from the bench, driving forward and combining well with Aguero, who clinically sidefooted the ball past Adrian on 81 for his second goal of the game.

Silva was sacrificed for Fernando as Pellegrini looked to protect a hard-earned point, and after late chances for Kouyate and Aguero, it ended 2-2 to leave the Hammers sixth and City second, three points behind leaders Leicester City.

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