Manchester City 3-1 West Ham: Carlos Tevez scores twice against his old club as City's good start continues
Published 23:00 28/09/09 By Daily Mirror match report by David McDonnell
Sir Alex Ferguson has tried to airbrush Carlos Tevez from his memory, but the Manchester City striker will not go quietly.
The way Fergie speaks of Tevez these days is as if the striker's two years at Manchester United never happened, the defection to City the ultimate betrayal for the Old Trafford boss.
But United's loss has undoubtedly been City's gain, as Tevez was keen to reinforce last night with two goals which helped his club to their best-ever start to a Premier League campaign.
City's fans were determined to get in on the act too, their mocking chant of "Fergie, sign him up" a dig at the United boss's failure to heed the pleas of his own fans last season.
A fifth win in six Premier League games took City up to fifth place in the table, level on points with Liverpool and Tottenham, but crucially with a game in hand.
If they can win that game, City will be level on points with United and Chelsea, then perhaps Fergie will accept the "noisy neighbours" he loves to mock are now serious title contenders.
And with Tevez and his team-mates is this kind of irresistible form, City's hopes of challenging for the title are far from fanciful, as they illustrated with this accomplished win.
Tevez even showed banned team-mate Emmanuel Adebayor the way to behave after scoring against a former club, with an apologetic shrug to the West Ham fans following his first goal.
That came after just five minutes, when Tevez profited from the collective amnseia in West Ham's defence to put City ahead with the easiest goal he is ever likely to score.
City winger Martin Petrov was allowed ample to time to cut in from the left and pick out the unmarked Tevez, who applied the simplest of finishes from close-range.
Tevez could have had a hat-trick inside 10 minutes, such was City's dominance and West Ham's willingness to play the role of obliging opponents and allow them to control the game.
A soaring shot from the diminutive forward flew just wide in the ninth minute, then Tevez scooped the ball over the bar five minutes later when allowed another glimpse of the target.
There seemed little doubt as to the outcome, with City in the ascendancy, but Gianfranco Zola's spirited but limited side managed to equalise in the 28th minute.
A free-kick was meekly headed away by Joleon Lescott and the ball fell to Radoslav Kovac, whose first-time shot was diverted in via an instinctive flick from Carlton Cole.
The equaliser seemed to sap City of their early vigour and Cole could have edged West Ham ahead four minutes later, but his downward header was gathered by Shay Given.
But West Ham's leveller proved to be only a temporary setback for City, who regained the lead in the 31st minute through an exquisitely-delivered free-kick from Petrov.
Luis Jimenez bundled Nigel De Jong over to concede the free-kick, which Petrov expertly dispatched around the West Ham wall and beyond the reach of Robert Green.
It was Petrov's first goal for 14 months, the Bulgarian winger having missed most of last season with a serious knee injury which required surgery and a lengthy period of rehab.
Petrov's guile caused West Ham untold problems, as did the relentless industry of Tevez and the pace and menace provided by Craig Bellamy.
West Ham had a goal ruled out just before the break when Carlton Cole was judged to have fouled Lescott before setting up Scott Parker to score, although the decision seemed harsh.
A woefully short back pass from Wayne Bridge to Given seven minutes after the break almost let Cole in for another West Ham equaliser.
But Given sensed the danger early enough and raced from his line to clear the ball ahead of the advancing Cole.
City created the breathing space they required with their third goal in the 61st minute, Bellamy's dead-ball delivery dispatched at the far post by Tevez's angled glancing header.
West Ham were restricted to opportunistic chances, Alessandro Diamanti forcing a fine reflex save from Given with a searing insiwinging shot in the 67th minute.
Green was called upon to ensure the scoreline did not become an embarrassment for West Ham, tipping a dipping shot from Gareth Barry over the bar with 13 minutes left.
There was enough time for Roque Santa Cruz, a £17.5m summer buy from Blackburn, to make his City debut, coming on for Shaun Wright-Phillips with 10 minutes left.
And young City midfielder Michael Johnson, out for most of last season with a succession of injuries, made his long-overdue comeback as a last-minute subsitute.
But the night belonged to Tevez. They may claim they don't need him across Manchester, but if he can maintain this level of form, United will miss him more than they care to admit.