Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Manchester City demolished West Ham in their opening game of the 2019/20 Premier League season.
The champions continued their remarkable record at the London Stadium, making it 22 goals in their five visits to the Hammers’ home, as they kicked off their title defence in stunning style.
Sterling was the star of the show with his treble, while Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero (penalty) were also on target for the rampant visitors.
VAR – introduced in English football for the first time this season – was at the centre of the afternoon’s action.
It controversially chalked off a second-half strike by Jesus, after the provider Sterling was deemed to be offside by the narrowest of margins.
But it later ruled in City’s favour as Lukasz Fabianski was penalised for coming off his line when saving Aguero’s penalty. That meant the City striker was awarded a second chance to score from the spot, which he duly took.
West Ham actually played some good football for the opening 25 minutes, but still found themselves on the end of another hiding. It is the third season in a row the Hammers have conceded four goals or more on the opening day.
City’s first arrived when Kyle Walker burst down the right and crossed to the near post, where Jesus was lurking between defenders to guide the ball home.
The goal sucked the life out of West Ham’s bright start, and their only shot on target in the first half was a weak effort straight at Ederson from £45million record buy Sebastien Haller.
Jesus was almost gifted a second before half-time when Issa Diop sliced his clearance but the striker could not lift the ball over Fabianski.
Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini, facing the side he led to the title in 2014, threw on £25m new boy Pablo Fornals at the break.
But within six minutes of the restart City doubled their lead, with Kevin De Bruyne sauntering through an inviting gap in West Ham’s defence and laying the ball off for Sterling to finish.
City thought they had scored the third when Sterling crossed for Jesus to tap home, but a lengthy VAR intervention eventually saw the goal ruled out by the thickness of Sterling’s shirt.
West Ham were momentarily heartened and Diop could have pulled one back but he headed a Robert Snodgrass free-kick over, before Javier Hernandez was denied at point-blank range by Ederson.
But Sterling did grab the third when he collected a chip over the top from Riyad Mahrez and lobbed the stranded Fabianski.
Aguero got his season up and running with his late penalty, at the second attempt, before Sterling raced through to complete his treble as last term’s treble winners began the new campaign in ominous fashion.