Barclay’s English Premiership
Saturday 13 September, 2008, 17:30 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Richards, Dunne (c), Ball (Sturridge 84), Hamann (Gelson 61), Kompany, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Robinho, Jo
Unused: Schmeichel, Ben-Haim, Evans, Garrido, Elano
Goals: Robinho (13)
City Man of the Match: Shaun Wright-Phillips
Robinho made his debut for City against the team who he may have joined, has Chelsea been willing to pay the asking price. And the Brazilian’s day began well, as he scored the opening goal from a free kick.
It was the debutant who created the first chance of the game, showing some skill to jink to the left, before laying off Shaun Wright-Phillips, who shot bobbled weakly past Petr Cech’s post.
Lampard then had the game’s first shot on target but it flew straight into Joe Hart’s hands.
Jo was then hauled down on the edge of the area by Carvalho and Robinho was able to make a dream start to his City career. He put his foot through the ball and his shot took a slight deflection off the top of the Chelsea wall, and Petr Cech got nowhere near it.
The joy was shortlived, though, as Chelsea equalised four minutes later from a corner. The ball took a fortunate bounce in the area, and fell to Joe Cole, who knocked it back to Carvahlo and the defender lashed it in, with Cole blocking Hart’s view.
Referee Mark Halsey has been a fans’ favourite ever since the Wembley playoff final in 1999, but he kept himself out of City’s good books today by ignoring a blatant bodycheck on Shaun Wright-Phillips by John Terry, when the City man would have been through.
Seconds later, Terry also appeared to get away with a handball that prevented Robinho from getting in, much to the fury of the home fans and Mark Hughes.
Stephen Ireland should have at least tested the goalkeeper, after a delightful touch from Jo set the midfielder through, but his shot blasted just over the bar.
Chelsea began to take control of the game, putting together some nice possession football, but were, in truth, weren’t looking eager to break City down. Lampard went close when his free-kick missed everyone and landed in Joe Hart’s hands, while Malouda headed a Joe Cole cross against the crossbar, as he found himself unmarked in the six-yard box.
Just after the half-hour, Jo had a curling effort deflected over, while Malouda headed well wide after he found himself unmarked, again, in the box.
Minutes before half time, Zabaleta nearly had a nightmare moment in front of his own goal on his debut, as his pass out of defence landed straight at Anelka’s feet, just wide of the penalty spot. Fortunately from City’s point of view, Anelka couldn’t find the net.
Controversy again after the break, as Belgian Vincent Kompany appeared to be fouled in the Chelsea half, but the referee waved play on. The visitors broke quickly, and Lampard found himself with time in the box to slot home with his left foot.
Chelsea looked favourites to go on and win, when Anelka wanted a penalty for a tough challenge by Richards and John Terry headed wide from a corner.
Just after the hour, Shaun Wright-Phillips broke into the Chelsea half and squared it for Ireland in the box, but the Irishman couldn’t finish. After taking a touch to steady himself, his shot was blocked by a last-ditch challenge by Carvalho.
Robinho, looking to impress on his debut, was chasing a ball towards the corner flag, when his shirt was being tugged off his back. Just as we thought City would get the free-kick, the decision went Chelsea’s way.
From that free-kick, the ball was lumped forward, flicked on and it landed to the feet of Anelka, who slotted the ball past Joe Hart on 69 minutes.
John Terry was then sent off for a professional foul on Jo, after the Brazilian had beaten the Chelsea skipper and was looking to race towards Cech’s goal. But the Chelsea centre-back had other ideas, hauling him down, midway into the Chelsea half.
The visitors then showed their thoughts on the FA’s Respect campaign, by surrounding the referee to argue the point.
City looked like they could have made the final ten minutes interesting, but they couldn’t find the killer ball. Ireland wriggled through the left side of the Chelsea defence, before finding Michael Ball, whose left footed shot fell straight into Cech’s hands.
Sturridge came on for Ball with six minutes left, and had City’s last attempt on goal in stoppage time, but his shot was blocked by Chelsea substitute, Alex.
The game then petered to an end, with Chelsea in no hurry to play the ball by the City corner flags. Perhaps the final score was a little harsh on City, who, with hard work and consistency, should be easily capable of achieving a top six finish, but Chelsea were good value for their win.