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Man City on fire

Friday, January 10, 2014

MANCHESTER - Alvaro Negredo plundered a hat-trick as Manchester City destroyed hapless West Ham United 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday to all but qualify for English soccer's League Cup final.

West Ham had a second-string team embarrassed 5-0 at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup on Sunday, but even the return of several first-team players could not prevent a mauling by City's ruthless forwards in the semi-final first leg.

A smartly taken brace from Negredo and a goal from the marauding Yaya Toure put City 3-0 up, with Negredo completing his hat-trick in the second half before Edin Dzeko sealed victory with two goals of his own.

Manuel Pellegrini's City have scored 59 goals in their 15 home games this season and their place in the final appears a formality in the return leg at Upton Park on January 21.

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce made eight changes to the team thrashed at Forest, handing a debut to new loan signing Roger Johnson, while Toure and Vincent Kompany were among the returning players in a strong City XI.

Samir Nasri had driven a low cross across the face of goal and Javi Garcia had headed wide from a David Silva corner by the time Negredo broke the deadlock in the 12th minute.

It was a goal of arresting simplicity, with Negredo haring onto a raking 60-metre pass from Toure and lashing an impeccable left-foot volley into the bottom-right corner.

After West Ham goalkeeper Adrian saved from first Silva and then Nasri, Negredo made it 2-0 in the 26th minute with a shot into the roof of the net from strike partner Dzeko's through ball.

Toure added to the hosts' lead with a characteristic driving run followed by a low shot.

Allardyce introduced Carlton Cole up front at halftime but, within four minutes, City were four goals up as Negredo completed his hat-trick by sweeping home a shot from Silva's deflected pass.

It was the Spaniard's second City hat-trick, after a treble against CSKA Moscow in November, and Dzeko managed to get in on the act in the 60th minute when he slid home a cross from Gael Clichy.

As West Ham's fans took to angrily goading Allardyce, City took their foot off the pedal but, in the 89th minute, Aleksandar Kolarov cut the ball back for Dzeko to complete the rout.

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