De Jong delighted to break duck

On what was his 94th City appearance, De Jong put the hosts ahead

in the 10th minute, powering into the corner of the net from

outside the area after the Hammers had failed to deal with a

corner. The delight of the Holland international, who joined City

from Hamburg in 2009, was clear as he celebrated with his

team-mates and De Jong revealed afterwards that the wait to break

his duck was something that had started to play on his mind. “The

ball bounced off one of the West Ham players and came down to the

edge of the box,” De Jong told “I was standing there

so I saw the opportunity to shoot and this time finally it went

into the net. “The relief was there. The boys had been asking me

when I was going to score my first goal and saying I had lost my

touch, and all sorts of thoughts had been getting into my head. “So

it is nice to score a goal to make sure your side is leading 1-0.

It was a personal victory as well.” Pablo Zabaleta – another rare

goalscorer – doubled City’s advantage on the quarter-hour mark with

a shot that went in via Lars Jacobsen, before Demba Ba pulled one

back for the visitors in the 33rd minute. City captain Vincent

Kompany, whose embrace with Mario Balotelli before kick-off

indicated there was no problem between the two players despite

reports of a training-ground bust-up, was pleased De Jong and

Zabaleta got on the scoresheet – even if it leaves him as one of

only two outfield regulars at the club without a goal this season,

alongside Jerome Boateng. “I was happy to see Nigel score because

he really has been looking for that goal for such a long time,”

Kompany said. “I know he can score because I played with him at

Hamburg and he did there. “I hope that will trigger his account now

and who knows, maybe we will see five or 10 goals a season from

Nigel! He can handle the pressure. “We joke about things like this

but it’s also a challenge. We joke about Zaba as well, and

obviously he has also done it now. “I had better start working on

it now – I can score as well, so it can’t be that long any more

before I get one.” De Jong had to come off at half-time due to a

hip complaint but is hopeful of being available again for next

weekend’s clash with Everton. “I took a knock earlier in the week

on my hip and I was out of training for a couple of days,” he said.

“At the end of the first half I felt my hip again, so we will have

to see. “I think I will have a scan on Tuesday and see the results,

but I hope it is not too bad because every game now is a final for

us and I don’t want to miss any.” City missed a series of chances

to make it 3-1, but it eventually turned out that their early

double was enough to secure a victory that keeps them firmly on

course to win the race for the final Champions League berth. With

four fixtures to go, Roberto Mancini’s side are fourth in the

Barclays Premier League, seven points clear of nearest rivals

Liverpool – who have played a game more – in fifth and Tottenham in

sixth. While the result brought City within touching distance of

their Holy Grail, it was a fifth successive loss for rock-bottom

West Ham, with the threat of relegation to the npower Championship

moving closer. Their manager Avram Grant has set a target of at

least seven points from their remaining three fixtures, and was

encouraged by the performance of a Hammers side missing a host of

key personnel. “We played without so many players,” Grant said.

“When we had a good run a few weeks ago, Gary O’Neil, Scott Parker,

Mark Noble (all of whom are injured) and Wayne Bridge (who was

ineligible to face his parent club) were a major part of this. “We

played against City without them and we showed that the difference

between us losing and taking a point was small, so we can take a

lot of positive things for the next game.”