Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea – as it happened
Manchester City fought back from a goal down to scrape a win against Chelsea and keep their title hopes alive.
Image courtesy of WellOffside.com
FULL-TIME: Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea Well, that’s that. City get away with it and stay in the title race. The television is hyping this one up quite a lot, “They’re just a point behind now!” as though they’ve made up a 20-point deficit or something. Obviously the atmosphere says otherwise, but City have merely avoided disaster tonight. Nonetheless, the psychological implications could be large. The title race is back on from not being off. Thanks for reading, g’bye!
93 min: Chelsea get gifted the ball in a dangerous area, but Essien gives it away twice. Not his best performance, if we’re honest. Aguero escapes up the other end and tries to go it alone but fails. That’ll surely be that….
90 min: Drogba picks up the ball in the left channel and thumps it, but it’s a cross-cum-shot when it really needed to be one or the other. We’re into stoppage time now, and Chelsea don’t look like equalising.
88 min: Lots of people are bigging up the fact that Tevez provided the assist. He’d done absolutely nothing before that – if you’re looking for the man that gave City their spark, look no further than Essien.
GOAL! Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea (Nasri) Chelsea really didn’t look like holding out for very long there, and so it proved. Nasri, Tevez and Clichy exchange passes to put the former Arsenal winger through on goal, and he just manages to clip it over Cech. “Surely the winner”, says the commentator. There’s a good eight minutes left, though.
83 min: It comes to nothing. City, at last, have the sense of urgency they need, and Chelsea are getting nervous.
82 min: Chelsea don’t look in a hurry to retake the lead. And City have a corner…
80 min: The home crowd are singing once more. The next ten or fifteen minutes could be Quite Important.
GOAL! Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea (Aguero) Essien hands City a huge lifeline here – he needlessly sticks his arms up when faced with a cross from close-range, and Aguero duly sends Cech the wrong way from the spot. That could perk City up.
Penalty to Manchester City!
74 min: City are going to bring their own big man on – Dzeko’s warming up. They certainly need to try something, because they still don’t look like scoring. Better hope it’s one of his good days…
71 min: Didier Drogba’s about to enter the fray, which is more bad news for City. Torres had been bright and creative in the first half, but he’s done little of note in the second.
68 min: If anything, City are worse since the goal. Toure floats a terrible pass out of play and an ever-more-frequent groan rises around the stadium. I’ll surely jinx them, but they don’t look like going on and winning this one little bit.
65 min: Carlos Tevez comes on. City will, therefore, go out in a blaze of glory or the most pathetic whimper in history. There’s no in between now.
GOAL! Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea (Cahill) You won’t see a home crowd deflate faster than this. It’s only March, but they know the jig could be up – a pumped ball into the area, a bit of a scramble, and Cahill swings his boot at it for it to bobble past the unsighted Hart, who doesn’t get anywhere near it. This is the worst atmosphere since… yeah, actually, it was even worse than that. And now we find out if this Manchester City team are for real.
58 min: Meireles off, former footballer Essien on. Whisper it, but he’s actually been looking quite good recently.
56 min: Gratuitous shot of gawping, drooling natives ooh-ooh-aah-ahh-ing at the goal that wasn’t.
54 min: Nasri does well down the right and dinks a cross which Cech flaps onto his crossbar. Aguero picks it up on the other side and appears to smash it home, but it’s a trick of the eye, the ball merely ending up in the side-netting.
53 min: Barry’s first notable action is to pass the ball backwards to Fernando Torres as City attackers massed ahead of him. It didn’t go down well, but fortunately for the home side, Torres runs it into trouble.
49 min: Danger for City. Meireles somehow threads it through for Lampard, who somehow keeps his pass in play, dinking it into the six-yard area, but the City defence is well-positioned to clear.
47 min: Gareth Barry has come on for Balotelli. That change makes little sense looking at it in any way other than that Mancini was afraid of an open game. He’ll get absolutely panned if this doesn’t come off.
And we’re off. Again.
HALF-TIME: Manchester City 0-0 Chelsea A Chelsea counter-attack breaks down when Ramires runs into a defender, and then City zip up the other end of the pitch, only for Nasri to overhit his pass. The referee duly blows his whistle. It’s been a half of many opportunities and no goals – not even through poor finishing, but a lack of composure all-round in the final third. In terms of chances, Chelsea have had quantity, City have had quality. It’s a very even contest, and one that warrants viewing the second half in every possible way. We’ll be back shortly. Don’t go anywhere.
41 min: Cole tries to curl a cross for the onrushing Ramires at the far post. It’s cleared, but only as far as Torres in the area. He’s got three City defenders charging at him, and for some reason he elects to try and juggle it and the chance goes. He should’ve just leathered it.
37 min: Another Chelsea attack breaks down due to a poor decision as Ramires plays the ball out wide when the City defence is far from firm. Torres picks it up out wide, and his cross is rubbish and easily cleared.
34 min: Chelsea spurn another attacking opportunity through Meireles, who does well to get down the right, but attempts to burst down the touchline and runs it out of play, when the cut-back was surely the better option. But teams are far from composed in the final third, seemingly confident in another chance coming along soon – but it might not be this open forever.
33 min: I meant to say earlier, but didn’t owing to a minor technical hitch, that Ivanovic was injured and replaced by Bosingwa. He’s just cost Chelsea a promising attack through his incompetence, which reminded me.
31 min: Now Chelsea go close! Ramires escapes down the right with the ball, and curls a fine cross which Torres looks certain to convert until Richards manages to take it off his toes. It’s quite incredible that this game is 0-0.
28 min: Balotelli misses a sitter! Lampard plays a terrible pass straight into the path of the joker, with a chasm in the Chelsea defence in which he races. One on one with Cech, he takes it early, and puts it wide. That was a bad miss, and City won’t get a better chance than that.
24 min: City started the better side, but it’s been a very even contest overall. A twenty-five minutes of two halves. But played both at once.
22 min: A Chelsea corner appears to have come to nothing, but as City look to break, they suddenly win it back. Only a poor ball prevents Torres from a certain goa- from receiving an easy chance.
18 min: City want a penalty after Yaya Toure gets his way into the box through a combination of trickery and power, and goes down under Lampard’s rotund frame. It would’ve been harsh.
14 min: Torres does very well once more to work space and find Meireles, whose thumping drive finds Kolo Toure’s abs. Ivanovic picks it up, but skelps a woeful pass out of play.
11 min: Balotelli marauds into space down the left channel, and just when it seems he’s going to go it alone, he slides it out for Aguero. His finish is poor though, and the toe-poke hits the feet of Luiz before City work a corner but can’t find a way through.
10 min: If it’s fair to say a man who’s only done two things is ‘having a shocker’, then apply that to Cole. After his earlier brain-melt, Chelsea get away with another one after he scythes a bizarre pass along his own backline with City players lurking.
8 min: Nasri hits the bar! He picks up a long ball brilliantly and, from a very difficult position, hits it firmly and cleanly, arcing it just over Cech, only to see it come back off the woodwork. Chelsea try to counter-attack, but can’t quite pull it off. A fine start to the game.
7 min: It should be 1-0. Torres produces a fine sleight of hip to buy himself some space, dribbling intelligently through the centre of the pitch to tee Mata up, no more than 16 yards out, but the Spaniard curls it well wide.
5 min: Nasri’s looking very bright – he creates another City attack which appears to be done by a deflection as the cross comes in from the left, but Cole is caught ball-watching and allows Zabaleta to muscle him to the floor. The Argentine probably picks the wrong man for the cut-back though, and Silva blazed over. It’s all City.
3 min: Hart gets away with totally miskicking a clearance. That was almost a nasty one.
1 min: Nifty footwork from Samir Nasri down the right helps him set Balotelli free, but Luiz is soon across to muscle him off the ball. City get a corner, from which nothing comes.
And we’re off. Hold onto your alice bands.
Those teams in full, then:
Manchester City: Hart/Zabaleta Richards K.Toure Clichy/Y.Toure De Jong/Silva Agüero Nasri/Balotelli. Subs: Pantilimon, Savic, Kolarov, Milner, Barry, Dzeko, Tevez.
Chelsea: Cech/Ivanovic Cahill Luiz Cole/Lampard Mikel/Ramires Mata Meireles/Torres. Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Drogba, Malouda, Bosingwa, Kalou, Sturridge.
Preamble: Well, the background in terms of the Premier League is obvious. City are looking to not piss it away, Chelsea are looking to not completely piss it away. But we have some additional context tonight – that of strikers. You’ll notice that in the picture is a certain floppy-haired-blonde-Iberian-somehow-not-as-attractive-as-he-really-should-be-who-isn’t-scoring-very-many-but-did-well-against-a-championship-side-at-the-weekend who’ll be looking to continue his return to previous form tonight. He starts for Chelsea, while on the opposing bench, Carlos Tevez makes his mysterious return. Anything could happen! Anything! And we’ll be describing it when it does, so pour yourself an Armagnac and settle down. It could be a rough one.