An unbelievable performance, completely unexpected, ensured Manchester City inflicted a rare defeat on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Two goals apiece from Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy completed a 4-2 rout against a petulant 9 man Chelsea.
This match had it all. The build-up was intense, enlightening and nerve-wracking. Whether it was Team Terry V Team Bridge, Russia V Abu Dhabi, Challengers to the throne V Pretenders to the throne, or simply Chelsea V Manchester City the match which unfolded was nothing short of remarkable.
After defeat at Stoke and Hull and uninspiring victories against Bolton and Portsmouth a ‘Typical City’ would have shown up today, proved everyone wrong and salvaged a famous victory. However, even the most avid, purist Manchester City fan wouldn’t have expected the scenes we were watching.
The intensity was increasing even before kick-off, the standard hand-shake from both teams commenced with all eyes on John Terry and Wayne Bridge. Bridge again portrayed the broken friendship as he refused to shake Terry’s hand.
Hearts beating, palms sweating and adrenaline going nothing could remove the anticipation of the match.
Unsurprisingly both teams were cautious, a point would have been a fantastic achievement for us and Chelsea’s usual approach is a slow build up that finishes with a remarkable piece of skill. The greatest opportunities were falling to the home-side but the back five looked resolute. City’s approach was to sit back, hold tight and then pick Chelsea off with lightening fast breaks.
The attacks were few and far between, the crowd was becoming restless and more goal mouth action was needed. Cue Nemesis, Frank Lampard. Some slack defending allowed the goal-scoring midfielder to attack, he did so willingly and his right foot shot defeated Shay Given.
With City creating very little this was the worst possible outcome. Chelsea were now allowed to sit back and force the issue when they needed. 1-0 at the break was still respectable, but not for Carlos Tevez. Back from his traumatic experience, his willingness and desire allowed him to create confusion. He twisted and turned, ran and ran, until finally, off-balance,he struck home, slightly fortuitous, but either way it beat Hilario.
The second half wasn`t too dissimilar to the first. The scores were still level and neither side was battling desperately for that opening goal. Suddenly, Bellamy struck. Bellamy was positive all game, his speed, agility and desire wasn’t matched by the Chelsea defence and a quick break allowed Bellamy to run half the field and shoot crisply across the goal, brilliantly into the bottom corner.
Chelsea were struggling to match the opposition speed and skill and this was causing major problems.
Barry was next in line to attack; he challenged Belletti and ran full throttle at the Chelsea goal. Belletti was haring back but could only bring Barry down. This wasn’t the worst of it, the substitute Belletti then received his marching orders and to add salt in the wound Tevez struck his penalty beyond Hilario to make it all-but over.
Chelsea were crumbling, unexpectedly, they wilted under pressure and were proving their own worst enemy. Ballack was fortunate to still be on the pitch and took matters into his own hands when his horrendous tackle resulted in Chelsea playing with 9 men.
Despite City sitting comfortable, they continued to press their opponents and really damage their title hopes as well as pushing our claim for the top four.
Another flourishing break, combining, speed, awareness and critical decision making allowed Wright-Phillips to cross for the unmarked Bellamy who also got his second, taking City’s total to four.
The match was a rout, City were feeling pulsated, nothing could destroy this marvellous performance. With time ticking and a famous victory about to be recorded, Mike Dean decided to appease the home fans and allow Lampard to net his second from the spot, despite Barry winning the ball.
This was only a slight consolation, something to make the score-line slightly less disheartening for title-winning favourites.
City should be rightly taking all the plaudits for their phenomenal efforts. Defensively solid from front to back and breaking with such devastating effect this was a perfect performance. Mancini has silenced his critics for the time-being as City rush full on into fourth spot.
Recent harsh criticism meant all eyes were on Shay. He did not disappoint, despite conceding two goals he inspired the back four and thwarted many great opportunities. Also allowed us to break very quickly.
Probably City’s poorest performer. Still finding his match fitness. Under the glaring eye of Capello, Richards allowed Chelsea to attack easily. Poor challenges allowed several free-kicks in good positions.
At fault for the first goal, Kompany put that behind him. Second half, he combined well with Lescott to remain solid.
Despite his hefty price-tag Lescott has proved his critics wrong with class performances. Worked well with Kompany and prevented many aerial bombardments.
Team Bridge was in full flow today and he added to the ocassion by refusing to shake that horrible rent-boys hand. Attacked very well and created space for others. Looked very hard to take on. Much improved after his injury.
Another whole-hearted display. Protected the back four well and created several attacks.
Solid. Effortless. De Jong again proved how important he is, with a great defensive performance. His passing has greatly improved as well. Looks very calm on the ball.
One of his best performances in a blue shirt. With a license to roam more freely, Barry created several attacks and was brought down for the penalty. Never shirked a challenge.
Tried in the first half, but his attacks were too predictable.
Masterclass in wing play. Speed created many problems for the defence who couldn’t cope. A fantastic second goal and great determination for the fourth. His running all day relieved pressure.
An extremelly difficult decision, but playing on his own and giving City a crucial equaliser meant Tevez was the main man. An unbelievable performance that spoke volumes of his mental ability as well as his undoubted footballing ability. Two fantastic goals.
Did better than Johnson and allowed more width when playing in his usual position. Was given space and created the fourth goal.
Held up the ball well. Allowed City attacks.
Brought on for a more defensive approach. Little time.