Barclay’s English Premiership
Saturday 5 December 2009, 17:30 KO
City: Given, Richards (Onuoha 69), Lescott, Touré (c), Bridge (Kompany 76), Barry, de Jong, Robinho (Zabaleta 90), Wright-Phillips, Tevez, Adebayor
Unused: Taylor, Johnson, Petrov, Santa Cruz
Goals: Adebayor (36), Tevez (55)
Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the Match: Nigel de Jong
City went into this game off the back of seven draws and knew that it was going to be a tough test. With Ireland and Bellamy ruled out with injuries, it looked an even steeper hill to climb, but with everybody having already written City off, they rose to the challenge.
The game got off to a scrappy start, with City winning a few corners and free kicks around Chelsea’s box, but they came to nothing and were well dealt with. Chelsea tried to force a few chances, but couldn’t get the ball to their forward men.
It all looked to be going wrong for the home side after just 10 minutes, though. Given first saved brilliantly from Drogba, before Chelsea won a dubious corner. The ball was swung into the box, flicked clear by Adebayor, before it was played back in. Drogba had a go, but it was saved by Given, then Anelka likewise. City, though, were unlucky to see Given’s save bounce into the net off Adebayor. It was the height of bad luck for City, but the visitors were ahead.
With 15 minutes gone, Richards headed over from a corner as Lescott challenged his own man, before Wright-Phillips had an attempt to volley, but missed the ball completely, as City pressed for the equaliser.
Touré led from the back, as he collected the ball in his own half and ran towards the Chelsea box. He finished with a shot, but it was deflected straight into Cech’s arms and City were starting to dominate.
With 23 minutes gone, Barry broke into the box and found the by-line, but his pull back was just behind Adebayor, who could only shoot behind under pressure. Soon after, Wright-Phillips had an attempt saved well by Cech, before Barry’s long range effort was deflected wide for a corner.
With 35 minutes on the clock, City had swung two more free kicks into the box, both were close but came to nothing, before Wright-Phillips did well to take the ball down and cross. Carvalho was happy to concede the corner.
From the corner, Chelsea nodded clear, but the ball was driven in from the edge by Wright-Phillips and a spot of pinball left Adebayor with a tap-in. Chelsea wanted handball off Micah Richards, but he couldn’t have gotten his hands out of the way and would have been a harsh free kick to concede.
On the stroke of half time, City had a scare. A free kick to the visitors on the D flashed by Given’s left post, with the Irish keeper flying over to the other side of his goal, not knowing where the ball was going to end up.
After a first half of City domination, the second half began very cagily. Wright-Phillips earned City a free kick that came to nothing, before Carvalho was booked for kicking Tevez in the back as the two challenged for a header. It was to prove costly, as the Argentinian put the resulting free kick into the back of the net, low around Cech’s wall.
With 63 minutes on the clock, Drogba headed wide from a Chelsea free kick, but it looked like it was closer than it was and Given had it covered comfortably. Ivanovic then headed over from a corner, before Richards had to be replaced by Onuoha through injury.
It got worse for City on that front, as Bridge was caught late and had to leave on a stretcher, earning Chelsea substitute Belletti a yellow card. It was Kompany on and Barry to left back, as City tried to see out the game.
With 6 minutes to go, Chelsea were awarded a penalty. Onuoha caught Drogba in the box, after the City man had lost him on a cross, and there was no doubt about it. Up stepped Lampard, who rarely misses penalties, and Given saved low to his right, with de Jong completing the clearance to preserve City’s lead. The pair then allowed themselves a tender moment, as de Jong rewarded the City keeper with a kiss.
With 2 minutes to go, Drogba was through on goal and did everything but score, sliding the ball well wide of the goal when he should have found the net. Tevez then forced a save from Cech at his near post into stoppage time, when a pass to Adebayor could have been the better option.
In the final minute, City could have sealed their win, as Tevez broke through the middle and tried to slide Wright-Phillips in, but it was cut out with Adebayor to his left probably the ball he should have played.
But it didn’t matter, as Chelsea couldn’t force another chance and City ended their run of draws with their second league win against a top four side this season. It was perhaps City’s best performance of the campaign and they thoroughly deserved the points. If they can play like this against Bolton, it shouldn’t be a contest.