Youngster Phil Foden came off the bench to inject some life into Manchester City and salvage a point in a 1-1 draw at West Ham United in the Premier League on Saturday.
City were abject in the first half despite dominating possession, and in-form West Ham deservedly took the lead through Michail Antonio’s acrobatic volley in the 18th minute.
But Foden, who replaced Sergio Aguero at halftime, prompted a massive improvement for the visitors.
He equalised in the 51st minute with a sharp near-post finish, and City dominated thereafter but could not find a winner with Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez coming the closest.
West Ham and City both have eight points and sit in 10th and 11th places respectively, although City have a game in hand.
City ended the game with 70% possession but it was hard to make a case that they deserved the three points as their stuttering start to the league season continued.
“Very disappointed to not win the game but we will get over it tomorrow and improve on things for the next game,” Foden said. “We started slow in the first half and didn’t have a good tempo but the manager spoke well at halftime and we played much better in the second half.”
City boss Pep Guardiola cut a frustrated figure at the end, and his mood was not improved by Aguero suffering an injury.
West Ham, without a home win against City for six years, made great use of their limited possession in the first half and took the lead with a goal made by Czech duo Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal and finished in sensational fashion by under-rated English striker Antonio.
Soucek played the ball back to Coufal and his cross was behind Antonio but the big striker leant back and hooked an acrobatic volley beyond Ederson.
City’s response was sluggish, but when the 20-year-old Foden came on they suddenly found another gear.
It took them only six minutes of the second half to equalise as Foden gathered a cross from Joao Cancelo and swivelled to squeeze a low shot past Lukasz Fabianski.
West Ham dug deep as City turned the screws, and Fabianski saved well as Sterling was played in late on and again when Mahrez jinked through in stoppage time.
After playing Arsenal, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and City in their first six matches, Hammers manager David Moyes said his side’s eight-point haul shows they are headed in the right direction.
“I’m thrilled with the points total because I don’t think many people would have given us much,” Moyes said.