FA Premier League
Sunday 24 February 2013, 13.30 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta (c), K Toure, Nastasic, Clichy, Garcia, Milner, Rodwell (Tevez 54), Silva (Lescott 90), Y Toure, Aguero (Nasri 90)
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Sinclair, Dzeko
Goals: Y Toure (63), Tevez (86)
Booked: Rodwell, K Toure, Zabaleta
Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the Match: Kolo Toure
It was a cagey affair to begin with as both sides felt the other out. City, looking to secure second place and close the gap on United, and Chelsea, looking to catch the hosts, were both having large spells of possession, with little end product. Yaya Toure tried a shot straight at Cech, before a Nastasic free header from a corner forced the visitors’ keeper into a good save.
With just over 15 minutes played, City began to step up the tempo and the game was being played in the Chelsea half. Aguero tried to take the ball around Cech, but his touch was too heavy and it bounced behind for a goal kick. It was then Rodwell’s turn to head at goal, but his effort was over the bar, following a Lampard free kick that was well wide of Hart’s goal.
Eight minutes before the break, it was almost the hosts who took the lead. Aguero wriggled free on the left flank and was able to get a good ball back across to the back post where Zabaleta was arriving. He volleyed at goal, but his effort met the head of Cahill, who stopped the goal-bound shot from finding the net.
Rodwell tried his luck from 30 yards and found Cech again in good form to tip his long-range drive over the bar. From the resulting corner, the midfielder managed to win the header, but it was straight at the Chelsea goalkeeper and he was able to hold it. The home side were knocking, but the visitors’ door was remaining firmly shut.
It was normal service resumed in the opening stages of the second half, as it began with City on the attack. Milner’s ball into the middle was just missed by Rodwell and it fell to Aguero to try an ambitious overhead kick, but the acrobatic attempt landed well wide of the target.
But, with just five minutes of the half gone, City were facing a penalty. Ba had got in behind Kolo Toure and, as he faced Hart with a one-on-one, he went down under pressure from the City keeper. The referee pointed to the spot, despite there being minimal contact on the striker from the England international. It didn’t matter, though, as Hart was back up to save the spot kick low to his left, before Kolo Toure scrambled the rebound clear.
It was all livening up on the pitch, as Milner sent Aguero through for a one-on-one with Cech, but the Argentine’s cheeky chip landed onto the roof of the net. Two minutes later, the visitors had a three-on-one breakaway, but Kolo Toure did brilliantly to cut out the first cross and then make a great challenge to get the loose ball away.
Just after the hour mark, the home side went ahead. Silva and Milner found Yaya Toure inside the penalty area and, as he cut back inside onto his right foot, he curled the ball towards the bottom corner. It found the net, past the despairing dive of Cech, and via a little nick of a deflection on the way through.
It was Chelsea’s turn to press and try to find a response. Despite having a large amount of possession, though, they failed to test Hart with anything more than a potshot from Mata from the left edge of the box. Clichy did well to chest a loose ball back to the hands of Hart, and Nastasic and Kolo Toure were in the thick of the action to get their headers clear.
The decisive move, though, came five minutes from the end. Rafa Benitez went for broke and took off Mikel in favour of Torres. The change allowed City to control the ball inside the Chelsea half much more than in the previous ten minutes and, following a brilliant tackle from Garcia, Silva found Tevez on the edge of the box. The Argentine wellied it into the top corner.
It secured City’s win and left the blues seven points ahead of their opponents.