CHELSEA 2, MANCHESTER CITY 1
Frank Lampard came off the bench to score a late penalty which condemned City to their first Barclays Premier League defeat of the season.
It followed Gael Clichy’s sending off as Chelsea came from behind to resurrect their title challenge at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s players went into a celebratory huddle at the end of this contest as Stamford Bridge erupted on the final whistle on the realisation they had toppled City who came away from London empty handed.
Somehow City had contrived to lose a game they had looked destined to win on the strength of a first 30-minute display of power and strength as they dominated a poor looking Chelsea side.
It had been revealed before the match that Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas had instructed his players to celebrate with him as a show of solidarity, something which was later denied, though the eventual celebrations were an indication of how delighted they were to win.
Villas-Boas said: “It’s a good win for the players and leaves everyone happy. Its a win that puts our title back on track. Chelsea are alive and up and running for this Premiership title. Most of our rivals can keep up the pressure on City who play against Arsenal on Sunday.”
“It was always going to be a game decided by details and we needed to be patient.”
Roberto Mancini bemoaned his side’s lack of killer instinct and suggested that City could have finished off Chelsea had David Silva’s penalty appeal been ratified by the referee Mark Clattenburg.
“We are disappointed to be at the end of the run. We deserved to score two or three goals and if we played like we did in the first half we should score.”
“The penalty should have been given – the whole stadium saw the penalty except for him (Clattenburg). I don’t agree with his decision.”
“They played better when we were down to 10 players, and before that they didn’t take any risks.”
Mancini was quick to put this game behind him, however, with a big few weeks ahead.
“I said that December and January will be crucial months for us including this game.”
“The season is very long, all the teams can play for the title including Chelsea and Arsenal – today doesn’t change this.”
Mario Balotelli’s confidently taken goal after just two minutes was followed by 30 minutes of strength and power which threatened to put Chelsea into the shade.
Sergio Aguero should have extended the lead while David Silva was not awarded what looked a clear penalty off Jose Bosingwa as City blitzed a stunned looking Chelsea but somehow were not handed a just reward for their work.
Despite holding on desperately at times, however, Chelsea’s experienced players weathered the storm and as yellow cards started mounting up as tackles went in Raul Meireles gave the home side unexpected hope with an equaliser shortly after the half hour after Daniel Sturridge, a former City player who Mancini has gone on record saying shouldn’t have been sold by former City manager Mark Hughes, beat Gael Clichy down City’s left side and crossed for the midfielder to head home.
Questions had already been asked about City’s defence this season and both Clichy and Kompany were booked as they regrouped against a Chelsea side who couldn’t believe they had weathered the storm. City’s captain might have been sent off but it was Clichy who got his marching orders on the hour mark with another foul on Meireles.
The tide had turned by now, and City seemed laboured as Chelsea pressed home their numerical advantage and Sturridge’s shot forced a penalty off Joleon Lescott who handballed.
Lampard stepped up and slammed the ball into the roof of the net and, with 10 men on the pitch, there was no way back for City.