Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Manchester City 3-1 West Ham: Foden scores twice as champions retain title

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 19 May 2024

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Manchester City clinched an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title with a 3-1 final-day win over West Ham, with Phil Foden scoring twice at a sun-soaked Etihad Stadium.

Premier League Player of the Season Foden capped his outstanding campaign with two great goals when it mattered most, firing home from range in the second minute then adding another 16 minutes later.

Mohammed Kudus gave Arsenal a glimmer of hope in the title race when he halved the arrears with a remarkable overhead kick, but Rodri restored the champions’ two-goal cushion after 59 minutes.

Pep Guardiola could relax from there and City were unfortunate not to add to their lead, finishing two points clear at the summit as Arsenal fought back to beat Everton 2-1.

West Ham, meanwhile, were already guaranteed to finish ninth and end their final campaign under David Moyes with 52 points, eight adrift of Manchester United in eighth.

Mikel Arteta would have been praying for a solid start from West Ham, but City were ahead within 78 seconds as Foden’s delicate touch took him away from James Ward-Prowse 25 yards out, allowing him to blast his shot into the top-left corner.

City laid siege to Alphonse Areola’s goal from there, Jeremy Doku drawing two reflex saves from the visiting goalkeeper before Rodri prodded wide from a promising position.

With West Ham chasing shadows, City went 2-0 up when Foden swept across goal and in after fine work from Doku on the left wing.

Erling Haaland somehow failed to convert from close range before West Ham suddenly grew in stature, and Kudus introduced some jeopardy with an incredible overhead kick with 42 minutes gone.

Haaland missed another glaring chance just before half-time, then Kevin De Bruyne and Foden fired wide as the crowd grew increasingly nervous after the interval.

However, Rodri settled City’s nerves just before the hour mark, side-footing beyond the dive of Areola after being teed up by Bernardo Silva on the edge of the area.

Haaland went close on two more occasions as City looked to kill the game once and for all, before Tomas Soucek had a goal disallowed for an obvious handball at the other end following a VAR review.

That was the last tense moment City had to endure as they celebrated yet another title, finishing the campaign with nine straight wins to edge out the Gunners.

Fitting end to Foden’s season

A series of talismanic displays in the run-in contributed to Foden earning Player of the Season honours, not least a pair of match-winning hat-tricks against Brentford and Aston Villa. He saved his best for last, however.

Foden’s stunning opener was his sixth goal from outside the area in the Premier League this season, three more than any other player in the competition and the most ever netted by a City player in a single campaign.

His second, a cultured finish into the far corner from Doku’s cutback, was his 19th in the Premier League in 2023-24. Raheem Sterling in 2019-20 (20) is the only English player to ever better that tally for City in a single season.

While it was Rodri’s goal that allowed City to breathe after a tense period either side of half-time, it was fitting that Foden played a starring role on the decisive day.

Kudos to Kudus

Moyes’ 198th and final Premier League game in charge of West Ham may have ended in defeat, but Kudus’ stunning strike at least gave the Scot something to savour on his Hammers swansong.

Taking advantage of some slack set-piece defending, Kudus flicked the ball into the air, held off Josko Gvardiol and gave Stefan Ortega no chance with a brilliant, improvised finish.

He ends his first Premier League campaign with eight goals, a tally only bettered by Jarrod Bowen (16) among his Irons team-mates.

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