Barclay’s Premier League
Sunday 20 March 2011, 16.00 KO
City: Hart, Richards, Kompany (c), Lescott, Kolarov, Barry, de Jong, Y Touré (Balotelli 81), Milner (A Johnson 81), Silva, Dzeko
Unused: Taylor, Boyata, Boateng, Vieira, Wright-Phillips
Booked: Milner, de Jong, Barry, Kolarov
Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: Nigel de Jong
The opening exchanges were tentative with both sides having a cross into the box well dealt with – Lescott clearing for City and Cech catching for Chelsea. But, then it was City who took the initiative and pressed into the Chelsea half. Dzeko couldn’t get a shot away as he broke down the left, before Touré stung Cech’s gloves and Silva’s cross from the rebound was taken away from Dzeko by Richards.
Yaya Touré then dummied in the box and allowed the ball to run through to Dzeko from Kolarov, but the centre-forward wasn’t expecting the ball and couldn’t get it under control and the Chelsea defence could clear the danger.
But then it was the home side who should have opened the scoring. Milner wanted a foul on the right wing, but it wasn’t given and Chelsea were able to break with Torres. He found Kalou, who tripped up over his own man Ramires when through on goal, and Hart was able to collect the ball.
The ball then broke for Kalou on the edge of the box and he cut inside. Neither Milner nor Richards could get the challenge in and Kompany forced it away. Cole, latching onto the rebound, scooped his shot well over the bar, as Chelsea began to grow into the game.
Lescott and Barry then combined to deny Torres a shooting opportunity, after Kompany had found Dzeko, but Touré couldn’t quite slot Silva in after the Bosnian’s lay-off. Some Chelsea possession then resulted in a Lampard effort from the edge of the box, but it was on his left foot and was nowhere near Joe Hart’s goal.
With 20 minutes played, Lescott was perhaps fortunate not to concede a penalty for handball as the ball was crossed into the box, but neither the linesman nor the referee considered it enough for a spot kick. It was certainly a “seen them given” type.
Kolarov then hit a free kick straight at Cole, before there was a scramble in the City area as Torres fired in a cross and Lescott could only loop it into the air. Hart, though, was off his line quickly to punch and Kolarov could complete the clearance. Hart then pulled off a great save against Lampard, but the England midfielder was offside – though the City shot stopper wasn’t to know.
Milner was then unfortunate to pick up a yellow card for a challenge that was no different to those that had gone before it from the home side, giving Chelsea a free kick on the edge of the box. Lampard’s kick, though, was straight into the wall. Milner then did well to get around Cole, but he couldn’t do the same to Terry, with Dzeko and Touré waiting in the area. He then couldn’t get a shot in inside the box, after some good possession from the visitors.
Kompany was then caught out of position after Richards gave the ball away in the middle, but Lescott did his job in holding up Kalou and de Jong put in a fantastic tackle to deny Torres a shot on goal. The resulting corner bounced up in the box, but Milner was able to clear.
City then wanted an offside flag against Ramires, but the assistant rightly played on, leaving the Chelsea man to square for Lampard. Kompany, though, read the danger and put in a brilliant challenge to get rid of the danger. Ramires was then rightly flagged offside from the rebound.
As half time approached, Richards clashed heads with Malouda and Milner was penalised for handball, despite the attention of four Chelsea players – including a studs-down-the-heel challenge from Kalou – and City felt quite aggrieved with the decision. Kompany and de Jong then combined well to see the ball behind for a City goal kick.
Kompany slipped as the ball was then put into the box by Cole and Kalou swivelled and shot at goal, but Hart was able to get both hands on it and hold the shot, as Chelsea looked for the lead to take into the break. City, though, wanted the same, as Kolarov fizzed a low ball into the box that needed Luiz to clear and a City corner was well cleared by Terry and it was even at the break.
Chelsea carved out a great opportunity to take the lead five minutes into the second half as Kolarov gave the ball away on the halfway line, but Malouda’s effort from the penalty spot – via Torres and Kalou – was tame and Hart was able to collect, as City were stretched.
De Jong then gave the ball away in the midfield and Chelsea broke forward. Lescott and Kompany combined to stop Torres and Lescott’s clearance bounced off Cole and behind for a goal kick, as City began to ride their luck. Silva then tried to slip Touré in, but it was just a yard too far for him and Cech was out to smother the ball.
Dzeko then tried to break onto a raking pass from Milner and couldn’t get past Luiz, who then had too much for Kolarov. He laid it forward and de Jong took a yellow card for the team to prevent the home side’s breakaway. Some Chelsea pressure then finished with Ivanovic smashing a shot well over the bar from the edge of the box.
Lescott then did well to block Torres off and, from the resulting corner, Ivanovic thought he had given the home side the lead with a free header. He climbed well and headed well, but it hit Kompany and bounced behind, as City were beginning to hold on for their lives.
Dzeko then fired a shot straight at Luiz and then did well to win a free kick on the left wing. Milner delivered it and found Dzeko’s head and he flicked it towards the back post. Cech was beaten, but so was the post, as the ball drifted behind in one of City’s isolated chances.
With just over 15 minutes to play, City carved out their best chance of the game on the break. Silva chipped the ball to Kolarov on the left and the Serbian cut inside to the box. Via Touré and Milner, the ball found its way to Silva in the box and he looked for Kolarov, who couldn’t get a shot away.
David Luiz then won a free kick from a tired Richards challenge on the left wing and it turned out to be a disastrous free kick for City to give away. Kolarov wasn’t tight enough to Luiz and he headed past Joe Hart from the edge of the six yard box and City’s 80 minutes of hard work was undone.
Kolarov then flicked on a Drogba free kick and almost put it into his own net, before Richards dived in to block a fierce shot from Cole and Lescott was on hand to clear the danger in the middle. City tried to get the ball into the box and almost had a chance when Terry misjudged a header, but Luiz was on to Balotelli’s touch.
City had the chance to get the ball in the box and we perhaps unfortunate not to get a penalty when it looked like Drogba tripped Richards from the second ball in. But then, as City piled forward, they were hit on the break as Ramires found himself through on goal and he slotted it past Hart to take the hosts above the visitors with a game in hand.