Chelsea 2 Manchester City 1
By David Mooney, Tue 13 December 2011 09:07
English Premier League
Monday 12 December 2011, 20.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Lescott (Dzeko 85), Clichy, Milner, Y Toure, Barry, Silva (de Jong 75), Aguero (K Toure 64), Balotelli
Unused: Pantilimon, Savic, Nasri, A Johnson
Goals: Balotelli (2)
Booked: Kompany, Clichy
Sent Off: Clichy
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the Match: Gareth Barry
City got off to a great start at Stamford Bridge, as Aguero held the ball well on the halfway line under three Chelsea challenges and slid the ball through to Balotelli. With just 90 seconds on the clock, he skipped away from the sliding tackle from Ivanovic and rounded Cech, leaving him the simple task of rolling the ball into the empty net. It was a brilliant through ball and an even better finish from the Italian.
Four minutes later, Balotelli almost returned the favour for Aguero as he tried to slid it past Ivanovic and Bosingwa, but the full-back got there just ahead of the City striker to snuff out the danger. Aguero then couldn’t find a shot from the edge of the box, when he was picked out by Barry as the Chelsea midfield lost the ball.
The first spell of Chelsea pressure resulted in a deflected effort from the edge of the box from Meireles, but, from the corner that came from that, City broke away and should have doubled their lead. Aguero had the chance to shoot in the box on his left foot and, uncharacteristically, put the ball wide, as Cech was closing him down. City were then denied a clear penalty as Silva was felled in the box by Bosingwa after a great flowing move put the Spaniard in.
Drogba almost capitalised on a poor ball from Yaya Toure in the midfield as he ran at Zabaleta. Kompany came across to help and he flicked the shot wide of Joe Hart’s near post with his knee, before the Belgian got up to clear the resulting Mata corner. Drogba had a go from range just before the half hour, but it bobbled wide of Hart’s goal.
With just over ten minutes to go until the half, the home side found an equaliser. Sturridge burst down the right side of the box and pulled the ball back to the penalty spot where Meireles was ghosting in. He finished first time, giving Hart no chance and dragging Chelsea level when it hadn’t looked likely.
On the stroke of the half, Aguero almost stabbed the ball at goal at the near post, after some good work through Silva and Balotelli on the left flank. Terry got there just before the Argentine and got his head to it and Cech had to get across to make the save. City had been on top at the start, but Chelsea came back strongly in the half, as the teams went in level.
Sturridge should have done better when he was spare at the back post in the opening minutes of the second half, as Mata picked him out from a deep free kick. The former City man took it on with his right foot, but hit it straight over Hart’s bar.
With the hour mark approaching, Clichy dived in on Ramires as he tried to break towards the City box and he got none of the ball. Mark Clattenburg had no option but to show him a yellow card and it was his second of the evening, putting the visitors down to ten men and on the back foot. Fortunately for the away side, Drogba’s free kick was well over the bar.
Drogba was close to making the extra man count on 67 minutes as he rose in the box to try and nod at goal, but it was a good flick from Kompany to get the ball away from the Chelsea centre-forward. Balotelli had a go from range on the break, but Cech was able to swallow the shot up at the first attempt, despite the bounce in front of him.
With just over ten minutes to play, a good one-two between Ramires and Drogba sent the former through, but Zabaleta got across to block his shot and Hart was there to pick up the pieces. Chelsea were on top, but they weren’t carving out any clear cut chances, despite their extra player. But soon enough it didn’t matter: With nine minutes to play, a Sturridge shot struck Lescott’s arm and the referee pointed to the spot. Lampard stepped up and scored.
City had the chance to respond after a great piece of play from Balotelli on the left wing resulting in a free kick. Milner swung it into the back post where Terry was holding Balotelli and nobody could get a touch. The game finished with Chelsea holding the ball in the corner and City unable to get another meaningful effort on goal – it was City’s first defeat in the league since May.