FA Premier League
Sunday 25 November 2012, 16.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Kolarov, Silva, Barry, Milner, Y Toure, Aguero (Balotelli 86), Dzeko (Tevez 69)
Unused: Pantilimon, K Toure, Maicon, Garcia, Nasri
Booked: Zabaleta, Kolarov, Balotelli
Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: Pablo Zabaleta
It was this fixture where City lost their unbeaten run last season, so the visitors would have been very wary of the dangers the home side would pose, despite their recent troubles. And it was the away side would started the better, with Zabaleta unable to get a clean shot away as he was played in by Silva and the hosts struggled to clear their lines.
Silva should have given the visitors the lead with a free header in the six yard box, as Zabaleta found the Spaniard unmarked, but he couldn’t keep it down and it flashed over Cech’s bar. City were finding a lot of space in the opposition half and Zabaleta and Silva were combining well to try and exploit it. The full back played a brilliant one-two with Dzeko to get through on goal, but his shot was saved by the legs of Cech.
As the half approached, skipper Vincent Kompany put in a brilliant recovery tackle to deny Torres a run at goal, leaving Milner to mop up the rebound. Aguero should have had City in front when he had more time than he realised inside the six yard box, and his header was straight at Cech. He had time to let it drop and volley it, and he really should have scored.
The second half saw a different Chelsea emerge from the tunnel. The hosts were taking more risks and trying to create more chances; immediately, Kompany was needed to put a dangerous Cole cross behind, before Ramires wasn’t closed down by Yaya Toure and unleashed a fierce drive at goal. Thankfully for City, though, Hart could watch it fizz over the bar.
On 56 minutes, City wasted a golden chance to take the initiative as – for one of the few occasions in the game – the away side broke away with a three-on-two. Yaya Toure’s ball to Aguero, though, was very wayward and the Argentine was wrongfooted. At the other end, Torres fired over the bar when in space inside the box and he should also have done better.
Ten minutes later, City were close to taking the lead once more. Dzeko belted a low cross into the box and Aguero was pressuring Cole on the line, but the Chelsea full-back was cool and calm to control it and hoof it away to safety. Tevez was then superbly found by Milner at the back post, but the striker lashed at his shot and he sliced it behind.
Cole almost stole the points for the hosts, but Hart was able to push his fierce drive over the bar – the referee missed the touch and gave the visitors a goal kick. In stoppage time, it was almost Nastasic who won the game for City as he found himself unmarked from a corner and headed at goal, but unfortunately for the centre-back it was too far out and a simple collect for Cech.
With seconds to go, Mario Balotelli should have been given a free kick on the edge of the Chelsea box as he was blatantly body-checked by Luiz, but the referee decided the Italian forward had dive and produced a yellow card. City probably did enough to win the game, but they weren’t clinical enough in front of goal.