Barclay’s English Premiership
Sunday 15 March 2009, 13:30 KO
City: Given, Richards, Dunne (c), Onuoha, Bridge, Zabaleta, Ireland, Elano (Etuhu 65), Wright-Phillips, Robinho (Bojinov 81), Caicedo (Evans 54)
Unused: Hart, Garrido, Berti, Gelson
Booked: Elano, Evans
City Man of the Match: Nedum Onuoha
City went unchanged from their midweek game with Aalborg and were looking for a good defensive performance, with some good attacks on the break to try and get something from Stamford Bridge. They weren’t expected to win this game and perhaps the commentators have turned what ended up being a good defensive performance into an awful day for the blues.
Chelsea had the ball in City’s net in under a minute, but replays showed that Lampard was a good two yards offside when he scored. The officials, correctly, disallowed the goal.
Onuoha then slid wonderfully to deny Anelka a shot on goal and Chelsea were dominating with a succession of corners, but City were able to keep them out.
But, a Lampard free kick delivered into the box from deep found Essien, who had slipped his marker, and he hit it first time over Given and into the net. It was a disappointing goal for City to concede, switching off at the back and to see the ball loop in off Essien’s shin.
City’s first chance came on 23 minutes, when some good possession around Chelsea’s box resulted in the ball falling to Caicedo. He took a touch before hitting a right-foot shot wide of Cech’s goal, when perhaps a square pass to Shaun Wright-Phillips was a better option.
Mike Riley did nothing to win himself favour with the away fans, when he allowed Chelsea to take a quick free kick, but brought it back to be retaken, when City intercepted the ball, quite fairly, and looked to break.
Elano earned himself a yellow card for kicking out at Ballack, before Onuoha cleared a corner straight to Essien, who shot wide.
Anelka wanted a penalty on 32 minutes, when he went down under a challenge by Onuoha. Mike Riley said no and the replays suggested it was the correct decision, with Onuoha not winning the ball, but not fouling the Chelsea forward.
By 35 minutes, City had begun to have some good possession, around Chelsea’s box, but they couldn’t force and opening for a shot on Cech’s goal. In fact, after a solid 3-4 minutes of keeping the ball, Elano, clearly frustrated, chipped the ball into the box for Caicedo, but it was gobbled up by Cech.
Just before half time, Chelsea should have extended their lead, when Ireland was caught after a bad pass from Dunne and Drogba broke into the box. He backheeled for Ballack, but the German fired over and wide from eight yards.
City then should have equalised. Caicedo broke towards Chelsea’s box, but was crowded out and the ball fell to Robinho on the right. He took a touch and fired across goal, but there was no conviction and it was neither a shot nor a low cross and Bosingwa cleared before Caicedo could touch it in.
Just after half time, only a superb tackle by Onuoha stopped Chelsea getting a second goal. Essien played Drogba through, but Dunne and Onuoha sandwiched him in the box and Onuoha slid in to poke the ball away.
Given then denied Drogba with an excellent save from a one-on-one, after Chelsea broke, before Essien shot well wide from 20 yards.
Robinho then had a shot deflected wide and, from the resulting corner, Elano was chopped down by Terry on the edge of the box, giving City a free kick. Elano’s shot, however, was straight at Cech’s man wall.
Richards was then hacked down in exactly the same spot as Elano was, just 2 minutes later, but referee Mike Riley waved play on, much to City’s frustration.
Chelsea looked to get their second from a breakaway from a City corner, but an excellent sliding tackle from Zabaleta stopped Anelka going through.
From the resulting throw in, Chelsea kept the ball in the City half and, on 63 minutes, Belletti hit the post from just outside the box on the Chelsea left and the ball eventually went for a Chelsea corner.
A goalmouth scramble was eventually cleared, after Given dropped the cross, Onuoha slipped and couldn’t reach the ball, but Dunne was able to hack the ball away.
Etuhu replaced the booked Elano, and his first involvement was to drag a shot well wide of Cech’s goal. City then had a half shout for a penalty waved away when Evans went down in the area under a challenge from Ashley Cole, but a goal kick was given.
Lampard fired a free kick from 45 yards straight into the City wall, after a foul by Richard Dunne, and some neat skill from Ireland allowed City to break, but it came to nothing.
Ballack then had a header on goal blocked by Onuoha, before substitute Bojinov was able to take a good touch on his chest, swivel and volley at goal, but it was straight down Cech’s throat.
Dunne stooped to head out a Belletti cross, before Terry headed over from the resulting corner. Wright-Phillips then, unusually, gifted the ball to Anelka and his pass to Malouda resulted in the ball hitting the side netting.
Malouda then took advantage of a slip by Micah Richards and had an attempt on goal. It beat Shay Given, but not Richard Dunne who was able to clear from behind his own goalkeeper.
City were desperate for an equaliser now and had resorted to hitting the ball long towards Chelsea’s box. But it came to nothing and the game finished with Chelsea taking their time over a throw in by the edge of their own box.
The result probably flattered City on the number of chances the home side had, but City will be disappointed not to have at least had a point, after just one defensive slip cost them. Still, it was five goals better than their last visit to Stamford Bridge and, at this rate, it should be a victory by four goals in this fixture, next season.