LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester City gave fans something to cheer in their first game since being deposed as Premier League champions with two superb goals in a 2-1 home win over West Ham United on Saturday.
A well-worked passing move led to Sergio Aguero’s first-half opener and Yaya Toure sent an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net from just outside the box late on.
Second-placed City, who lost their title to Manchester United on Monday, took a large step to securing an automatic Champions League berth with four games remaining.
Roberto Mancini’s side sit nine points ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea, who occupy the Champions League playoff spot and have five games left starting with Sunday’s home match against Swansea City.
Tottenham Hotspur, 10 points behind City in fifth, play at relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic later on Saturday (1400 GMT) in their fifth-last encounter of the season.
West Ham are not mathematically safe from relegation but have no realistic worries lying 10th in the table.
City, who are gearing up for the FA Cup final against Wigan on May 11, dominated the early stages and Aguero hit a post with a scuffed shot before making the 28th-minute breakthrough.
Toure, Samir Nasri, David Silva and the Argentina striker were all involved in a series of short passes in and around the box before Aguero tapped home.
The goal meant City equalled an 83-year-old club record of scoring in a 48th consecutive home league game and Ivory Coast midfielder Toure’s 83rd-minute blast eased home nerves after West Ham had begun to press.
Striker Andy Carroll scored for the Londoners in stoppage time when his firm shot rolled through Joe Hart’s legs.
Reporting by Mark Meadows, editing by Ed Osmond