Jarrad Bowen Brace Holds Man City to a Draw

Written by Liam McMahon

Resilient, hard-working, passionate, and proud, are all words that can sum up both the wonderful career of club captain Mark Noble, and the performance his side showed in yesterday’s two-all draw with Champion-hopefuls Manchester City – putting their title-winning celebrations on hold for another week.

Although the league is thirty-seven-weeks into a thirty-eight-week season, there was still plenty to play for, with West Ham not only sending off Mark Noble, in what was to be his last home ground fixture before retirement, but also still playing for a place in next seasons Europa League. Manchester City, of course, were playing for glory of a different variety, with a win securing their second back-to-back league titles in five seasons.

Mark Noble in tears as he starts on the bench in his last home game

Four shots, half of which were on target, and two goals by in-form forward Jarrad Bowen, were all it took for The Hammers to share the match points with the undeniably diluted Man City squad, coming into the game without Kyle Walker, John Stones, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan all starting on the bench.

Bowen takes the ball past Ederson for his first of two goals

Having seventy-eight-per cent of the possession, ten more goal attempts and over two hundred more passes during the first half, the Citizens would have been frustrated going into half-time down by two goals to nil.

It would have been a mistake for anyone – even the most diehard of West Ham supporters – to have written Manchester City off at halftime, despite being two goals down. This was the same Manchester City side who have gone all season with no more than three losses and drawing only six times, and during this game, they would once more show exactly why.

More of the same was shown in the second half, except this time it was City doing the scoring, with their first goal coming from off-seasons $100,000,000 ($177M AUD) signing, Jack Grealish, unleashed a forty-eighth-minute volley which found the back of the net after bouncing above West Ham’s Fabianski.

Jack Grealish volley beats West Hams Fabianski

Twenty minutes, two West Ham yellow cards for defender Coufal and goalkeeper Fabianski, and several goal-scoring chances later, Manchester Cities’ second goal would eventually come, this time in the form of a Vladimir Coufal headed own goal.

Having conceded two goals, just twenty-five minutes into the second half, it would have been easy for many to believe West Ham were going to eventually lose this game, however, in front of a sold-out London Stadium, the home side still had chances to go on and win the game.

West Hams’ record Premier League goalscorer, Michail Antonio, had a chance to put the Hammers in front once more when a nightmare of a back-pass from centre back Fernandinho played the striker in beautifully, with just the keeper to beat on the edge of the box. Unfortunately for West Ham, the striker attempted to better Ederson with a chip shot, which saw the ball skying over the woodwork.

Jarrad Bowen had West Ham’s last chance of the game, when in the seventy-fifth minute, an Antonio cross into the box fell at his feet from a Tomas Soucek header, the forward who had already scored two in the first half, shot the ball into the side-netting, beating both keeper and post. This opportunity would ultimately be the home side’s last chance of snatching all three points from the reigning champions.

The moment all sixty-thousand West Ham fans inside the ground, and millions more watching from home, came in the seventy-seventh minute when Manuel Lanzini was brought on for club captain Mark Noble, who would step out onto the London Stadium, as a player, for the final time.

West Ham captain Mark Noble comes on for his last home appearance

West Hams’ valiant effort looked to fall at the final hurdle, when five minutes before the final whistle, Gabriel Jesus was brought down inside the penalty area by West Ham centre back, Craig Dawson, and was awarded a penalty.

The London Stadium has been no stranger to last-minute penalties this season, with a ninety-third-minute penalty being awarded in West Ham’s favour against Manchester United back in September, which was saved by United keeper David De Gea.

Heartbreakingly for Man City players and fans, it was West Hams goalkeeper this time to save the penalty, with Lukasz Fabianski diving the correct way to deny Riyad Mahrez and Manchester City their title celebrations.

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