Two high-quality goals from Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure gave Manchester City a 2-1 home win over West Ham in the Premier League, but a disastrous piece of goalkeeping from Joe Hart denied them a clean sheet in injury time.
City's title was snatched away from them on Monday but Roberto Mancini's side are still aiming to approach the FA Cup final in top form and produced a stylish performance at the Etihad Stadium.
Aguero put City in front after 28 minutes when converting following a flowing team move that included contributions from Toure, David Silva and Samir Nasri, who pulled the ball back for the striker to score his 11th Premier League goal of the season.
Nasri also supplied the second assist after 83 minutes as he knocked a pass square for Toure, who lashed a brilliant effort into the top corner.
However, after sustaining a back injury, Hart was guilty of a shocking lapse deep into added time as a shot from Andy Carroll trundled straight through the legs of the England number one.
West Ham were unchanged from last weekend's win over Wigan while City brought in David Silva and Aguero for James Milner and Edin Dzeko, as well as Joleon Lescott for Matija Nastasic in the back four.
City's attack, rich in quality, almost clicked inside 10 seconds. From kick-off, Nasri embarked on a thrilling run and poked a pass through for Carlos Tevez, but the striker was well offside as he fired a shot at Jussi Jaaskelainen. A former hero at Upton Park, Tevez was in lively form against his former side, with the Argentinian striker rifling a 20-yard effort right at the West Ham keeper and then sending another effort over the bar.
West Ham's early strategy appeared to be to kick Silva out of the game as the playmaker was on the receiving end of heavy challenges from Winston Reid and Mohamed Diame. A rare chance fell to Diame, but his firm volley from the edge of the box was too close to Joe Hart.
It was City who controlled the first half, with Aguero striking the post with a scuffed effort from a deflected Silva pass, and on 28 minutes they equalled a club record for scoring in 48 consecutive home games - the previous mark being set between November 1927 and February 1930.
The move was supremely well-worked, with Toure, Silva and Nasri all involved in a quick interchange of passes before the Frenchman cut back for Aguero, who squeezed his shot under Jaaskelainen. And only a smart save from the keeper prevented a second before the break as he blocked from Pablo Zabaleta after spilling Nasri's initial effort from the edge of the box.
City looked fluent in possession with Silva back in the side to shape their attacks, and they constructed another nice move after the restart when Nasri skipped away from two men and scooped a gorgeous pass over the defence for Tevez, who saw his firm effort take a touch off Winston Reid and go behind.
The roles were reversed on 61 minutes when Tevez released Nasri in the box with a quite sensational reverse pass and the midfielder's drive was touched over the bar by Jaaskelainen. Tevez was then teed up by Aguero, who snaked away from James Collins in the box, before seeing a goal-bound effort deflected over by Joey O'Brien.
As City continued to apply pressure to the visiting defence, Nasri spurned a huge chance to make it 2-0 on 72 minutes. Tevez broke free on the right and delivered a tantalising cross, and the Frenchman looked certain to score - but he was caught in two minds over which foot to take it with, and failed to make the necessary connection.
After West Ham almost threatened an ill-deserved equaliser when Matt Jarvis had a shot blocked by what looked like the arm of Zabaleta and James Collins drove the loose ball wide, City finally killed the game off with seven minutes remaining. Toure received a square pass from Nasri just outside the box, knocked it onto his left foot and then thundered a shot into the top corner.
The hosts could have extended their lead as Aguero was denied by a fine block by Guy Demel before putting another presentable chance wide after Jaaskelainen spilled a shot from Zabaleta. However, it was West Ham who had the final say.
Hart had pulled up with back pain but soldiered on for the final minutes and looked completely ill at ease when a decently-struck effort from Carroll somehow snuck through his legs and rolled over the line to deny City a clean sheet in a game they should have won far more comfortably.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Samir Nasri (Manchester City) - Two assists for the Frenchman, who appears to be finding his best form now the title race has concluded. Nasri was lively throughout and was always looking to open up the West Ham defence.
MAN CITY: Hart 5, Zabaleta 8, Kompany 7, Lescott 8, Clichy 6, Barry 6, Y Toure 7, Silva 7, Tevez 7, Nasri 8, Aguero 7. Subs: Milner 6, Garcia 6, K Toure N/A.
WEST HAM: Jaaskelainen 5, Demel 6, Collins 6, Reid 5, O'Brien 5, Vaz Te 5, Nolan 6, Diame 6, O'Neil 6, Jarvis 5, Carroll 7. Subs: Collison 6, Taylor 6, Cole 6.
- Sports & Recreation
- David Silva
- Joe Hart
- Sergio Aguero
- Samir Nasri
- Yaya Toure