MAN CITY 1, CHELSEA 1
Frank Lampard scored a dramatic late equaliser for Manchester City to end former club Chelsea’s 100-per-cent record in the Premier League.
Just when it looked like Chelsea were about to open an eight-point lead at the top of the table, substitute Lampard popped up to score his first goal for 10-man City on an emotion-charged day for the Stamford Bridge favourite.
And the Chelsea fans, who gave legend Lampard a rapturous reception when he came on with 12 minutes left, were left stunned when the club’s all-time leading scorer found the net for his new club.
But when Lampard went over to applaud the Chelsea supporters at the end of the game, he was again given a standing ovation such is the affection in which they hold the player.
It looked as though Chelsea would make it five league wins out of five when substitute Andre Schurrle put the visitors ahead shortly after Pablo Zabaleta had been sent off.
City’s 10 men showed a never-say-die attitude to battle back to equalise and restrict Chelsea’s lead at the top to a more manageable five points.
Lampard admitted it had been an awkward afternoon saying: “It was a really difficult one. I’d be unprofessional if I came on and didn’t do my job so I’m mixed with it.
“I’m obviously pleased that the side I came on for got a draw. It’s come up, I’m a professional and I didn’t expect to come on and score. I’m stuck in the middle.
“The Chelsea fans were singing my name and it was an emotional day. It’s not how I expected to say goodbye to the Chelsea fans. I woke up this morning and didn’t know what I wanted from today so I’m glad it’s out of the way. I guess this a happy medium.”
City manager Manuel Pellegrini also paid tribute to Lampard said: “I spoke to Frank at the beginning of the week and he wanted to be involved. He is a great professional and a great player.
“I didn’t sign him as a favour, but believed he could be an important player for the team and he would give us experience and quality.”
Pellegrini was critical of Chelsea’s defensive strategy saying his side was the only one which played to win.
“With 10 players, we still tried to win and that is why I am so satisfied with the performance, but not the result,” he said.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho pinpointed his side’s failure not to win on a miss from Diego Costa.
“When it was 1-0 we hit the post and that would have killed the game,” he explained.
City made five changes from the side which played at Bayern Munich in the Champions League in midweek as there was a debut for Eliaquim Mangala and recalls for Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta, James Milner and Aleksandar Kolarov. They replaced Samir Nasri, Jesus Navas, Martin Demichelis, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy in what was a far more solid looking line up.
Chelsea made just two alterations to the side which played Schalke in the Champions League as Costa and Cesar Azpilicueta both returned.
It was clear from the start that it would be a match of few goalscoring opportunities and fine margins, and so it proved as it quickly became a fiercely-fought battle in which six players were booked in the opening period.
Indeed neither goalkeeper was seriously extended in the first half as Yaya Toure headed straight at keeper Thibaut Courtois and Aguero fired over while Chelsea failed to muster a meaningful chance.
Both sides had shouts for penalties, Chelsea ‘s claim that Toure handled appearing to have some validity though City claimed Edin Dzeko was fouled.
The start to the second half followed a similar pattern as it looked increasingly likely that one mistake or moment of magic would determine the outcome of the match.
City had the best chance of the game in the 57th minute when Courtois pulled off a great save low to his left to deny Aguero. Dzeko looked set to fire home the rebound until Ramires made a last-gasp block to prevent a certain goal.
But midway through the second half Zabaleta, booked in the opening period, was sent off for a second caution following a foul on Costa.
And Chelsea capitalised on their extra man advantage as they made the all-important breakthrough five minutes later. It followed a neat passing move which ended with Edin Hazard firing over a low cross to the far post for Schurrle to slot home from inside the six-yard box.
Chelsea ought to have sealed victory with nine minutes left when Cesc Fabregas set up Costa who struck the upright when he looked certain to score.
It was to prove another defining moment in the match as City equalised in the 85th minute when Milner crossed from the left for Lampard to sweep home a shot low to the right to Courtois as the finish could not have been better scripted for the former Chelsea player to have the last word.