Chelsea spoil the party in Manchester, leaving Pep with his head in his hands at the Etihad.
Saturday evenings blockbuster clash between Manchester City and Chelsea looked to be a preview of this seasons Champions League final, with both sides set to meet again in Europe at the end of the month.
A win for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City would prove to be enough to see the Manchester club clinch their seventh league title. Going into the fixture, City would have fancied their chances – having beaten Chelsea in three of their last four meetings at the Etihad on an staggering aggregate score of 12-1.
However, Chelsea have been in impeccable form since Thomas Tuchel’s appointment. The Blues have remained unbeaten on the road, whilst keeping 11 clean sheets in just 15 league games played. Chelsea also secured a victory over the Citizens last month at Wembley, with Hakim Ziyech’s goal being enough to move the Blues on to yet another FA Cup final.
After beating Real Madrid on Wednesday evening, Thomas Tuchel made five changes to his starting eleven, with Reece James, Marcos Alonso, Billy Gilmour, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic all rotated into the side.
Pep Guardiola also heavily rotated his side by making nine changes to his starting eleven – with only Ederson and Rúben Dias keeping their place.
With both teams keeping 31 clean sheets this season, it looked to be the battle of the defences in Manchester. With City in need of a victory to clinch the title, the hosts started the game hungry and aggressive – with Ferrán Torres, Gabriel Jesus and Benjamin Mendy all having early shots at goal.
Despite City’s attacking threats, Chelsea was also moving the ball well and edging their way into the game. The opening 25 minutes was mostly played at a steady pace, with neither side making any real breakthrough.
On the 32nd minute, Chelsea had the ball in the back of the net through Timo Werner. However, for the second consecutive game, the German was penalised after being clearly offside when the pass was made.
Although the goal didn’t count the Blues showed exactly what they were capable of on the front foot. Both Hakim Ziyech and Antonio Rüdiger later had shots on goal, with Tuchel’s side showing no signs of easing off.
However, on the 44th minute, Manchester City had broken the deadlock through Raheem Sterling.
A mistake and injury to Andreas Christensen allowed for Gabriel Jesus to move into a dangerous position, before squaring the ball to Sergio Agüero for an easy tap in. The Argentinian fluffed his lines with a bad touch, which allowed for Sterling to take the ball from beneath his feet and fire City ahead.
Moments later, the Blues were crumbling as the hosts were awarded a penalty. A clumsy foul from Billy Gilmour on Gabriel Jesus gifted the league leaders a chance to grab a second before the break. Sergio Agüero stepped up to take it, but his failed Panenka was easily saved by Édouard Mendy – who made the Argentinian look a little embarrassed.
Regardless of the missed penalty, City still took a healthy 1-0 lead into the break.
Going into the second half, early efforts from Hakim Ziyech and Sergio Agüero were saved – which only highlights the need for either side to score.
The hosts continued to look a tough nut to crack as the Blues struggled to break them down. With an hour of the game on the clock, there was a chance for Christian Pulisic, who saw his attempt fizzle wide.
Just 3 minutes later, Chelsea were level through Hakim Ziyech.
Tuchel’s side had improved drastically in the second period, who now had a goal to show for their efforts. The Moroccan made the most out of a ‘half chance’ as he fired a low, hard shot into the bottom corner. Ederson managed to get a hand onto it, but it wasn’t enough to keep out Ziyech’s effort.
10 minutes later, Chelsea began to search for the lead as Reece James’ teasing cross was fractionally missed out by a stretching Timo Werner.
On the 79th minute, the German had the ball in the back of the net again. However, for the third time in less than two games, his goal was disallowed with the German failing to time his run once again. Hudson-Odoi also had the ball in the back of the net for the Blues, but he too was penalised for being in an offside position.
It was end to end action at the Etihad, as Sterling found himself 1 on 1 with Mendy. The England international looked set to fire City ahead, but a last-ditch challenge from Kurt Zouma kept Chelsea alive and in the game.
On the 87th minute, Manchester City wanted their second penalty of the game as Raheem Sterling and Kurt Zouma were in a tangle inside the Chelsea penalty area. However, to the frustration of Pep Guardiola and City – referee Anthony Taylor and the VAR team saw nothing in it.
With the game coming to a close, the hosts were stung in the dying seconds as Marcos Alonso popped up out of nowhere to take all three points back to Stamford Bridge.
After the whistle:
For the second time since his appointment in January, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City have fallen short to Thomas Tuchel’s Blues.
In what was a preview of the upcoming Champions League final, City failed to capitalise on their lead and were punished. Chelsea only grew as the game went on, and will be boosted by a huge three points that shifts them ahead of Leicester and into third.
Although they wasn’t able to lift the trophy yesterday at the Etihad, the Manchester club will have another chance next Friday – as they take on Newcastle at St. James’ Park.
For Chelsea, the three points will ease the pressure on the Blues at their quest for a top four finish. Tuchel’s side are next in action on Wednesday, as they welcome Mikel Arteta and Arsenal to Stamford Bridge.
Manchester City 1-2 Chelsea.
- Sterling (44’).
- Ziyech (63’).
- Alonso (90+2’).
BBC Sports player of the match:
N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea).
Manchester City (3-1-4-2): Ederson; Dias, Laporte, Aké; Rodri; Cancelo, Torres (71’), Sterling ©, Mendy (80’); Jesus, Agüero (70’).
- Subs: Foden (70’), Gündogan (71’), Zinchenko (80’).
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta ©, Christensen (45+3’), Rüdiger; James, Gilmour, Kanté (68’), Alonso; Pulisic, Ziyech (76’); Werner.
- Subs: Zouma (45+3’), Jorginho (68’), Hudson-Odoi (76’).
Manchester City (48%) vs Chelsea (52%).
Manchester City (16) vs Chelsea (12).
Shots on target:
Manchester City (4) vs Chelsea (5).
Manchester City (6) vs Chelsea (2).
Manchester City (12) vs Chelsea (10).
- (credit | BBC Sport).
- (credit | Sky Sports Football).
Written by Ryan Bellenie (@BellenieSport).