Superb Sterling hat-trick helps Manchester City thrash West Ham as VAR causes havoc

Tom Homewood
Assistant Producer

Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick helped Manchester City hammer West Ham 5-0 at the London Stadium.

Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring in the first half, before Sterling bagged his first shortly after the interval.

The England star then struck twice in the final 15 minutes, sandwiching a penalty from substitute Sergio Aguero, as City breezed to victory.

But it was the decisions assisted by television replays which shared the headlines, with the visitors seeing a goal controversially chalked off, another allowed and Aguero’s penalty retaken as VAR made its debut in England.

READ MORE: VAR makes first major decision as Gabriel Jesus goal overturned

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 10: Raheem Sterling of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his team's fifth goal during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester City at London Stadium on August 10, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

In a slow start for the defending Premier League champions, £60million man Rodri appeared to foul Manuel Lanzini but no penalty was given.

Riyad Mahrez’s swerving effort was turned behind by Fabianski, before visiting captain David Silva missed from close range.

It was Jesus who finally broke the deadlock, though, when he diverted Kyle Walker’s fierce cross beyond Fabianski at the near post.

Jesus, who started in place of talisman Aguero, should have doubled City’s lead but failed to lob the ball over the wayward Fabianski, following Issa Diop’s mishit clearance.

Sterling, though, did so with aplomb when the England star slid the ball beyond Fabianski after Kevin de Bruyne’s inch-perfect pass.

Jesus then became the first victim of VAR in the Premier League. His goal was chalked off as Sterling was adjudged to be marginally offside.

Sterling argues with referee Mike Dean after their 3rd goal is disallowed by VAR (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

West Ham, buoyed by that decision, were denied by a fantastic double save by Brazil international Ederson, who kept out Javier Hernandez and Lanzini in quick succession.

Sterling secured the win 15 minutes from time with a delightful lob over Fabianski - which VAR adjudged marginally onside.

Fans have long-since feared television replays would see trivial infringements punished - and when Aguero saw his penalty saved by the West Ham goalkeeper only for the referee to order a re-take, those fears were realised once more.

It followed a frustrating trend of refereeing decisions in the women’s World Cup in France, in which goalkeepers were penalised for stepping off the goal line too early on a number of occasions.

Aguero, unperturbed by the original miss, duly converted at the second attempt as VAR had its third major say in the match.

And deep in stoppage time, Sterling added City’s fifth and final goal to complete his hat-trick and help Pep Guardiola’s men hit the perfect response to Liverpool’s big win on Friday night.

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