Cahill (OG 45)
Costa 59, Willian 69, Hazard 89
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- 03 December 2016 14:34
- Posted by @dclayton_MCFC
Three second-half goals from Chelsea saw a Gary Cahill own goal cancelled out as City lost 3-1 and ended the game with nine men at the Etihad.
The Blues were left counting the cost of numerous misses in a thrilling game that City looked in control of for long periods – and yet eventually ended up losing to a well-organised Chelsea side.
Explosive, controversial and mesmerising.
City and Chelsea locked horns to produce the kind of encounter that only the Premier League seems capable of with a match that was packed with incident throughout.
The tone for this top-of-the-table clash was set from the opening moments as Fernandinho clashed with Eden Hazard – the first of a number of crunching challenges from both sides.
The first of many decisions by the officials that the City fans didn’t agree with came after just seven minutes when David Silva tied Gary Cahill in knots before rolling the ball into the box only for the grounded Cahill’s arm to deflect the ball out for a corner. He didn’t know much about it and it fell into the grey area of ‘arms in unnatural positions’ – as they say, you’ve seen ‘em given!
Hazard’s low shot from 15 yards had Claudio Bravo scrambling across his goal but it was a foot or so wide of the post as Chelsea threatened and the visitors continued to look dangerous on the break, particularly when the diminutive Belgian was on the ball.
But City have their own brilliant Belgian and the more the game went on, so Kevin De Bruyne’s influence grew. His crosses are sometimes unplayable and he was a constant thorn in his former employer’s side.
The Etihad was on its feet on 24 minutes as Fernandinho headed De Bruyne’s free-kick home, but replays showed three players in sky blue had marginally strayed offside.
It was the start of a sustained spell of pressure from City that would eventually see the home side take the lead.
Leroy Sane burst into with a powerful run that set up Aguero on the edge of the six-yard box but his effort was blocked by Azpilicueta who stopped a certain goal.
Then Aguero headed De Bruyne’s cross wide when well-placed and Ilkay Gundogan was denied a penalty after being tumbled over as he shaped up to shoot – it was hard to keep up with all the chances.
Then, just as it seemed the teams would reach the break goalless, Jesus Navas picked the ball up on the right and his cross was spectacularly volleyed into the top left-hand corner by Chelsea skipper Gary Cahill.
It had been coming and it was just reward for City’s endeavours.
And the action didn’t let up after the re-start with the Blues looking to establish a two-goal cushion that might just be enough to kill the game.
It seemed certain to come on 57 minutes when Navas raced down the right after a clever ball from David Silva and his cross found De Bruyne at the far post but he could only divert his shot onto the crossbar from point blank range.
Three minutes later, Chelsea were level.
Diego Costa took a lofted pass down expertly in the box, skipped past the unbalanced Otamendi before drilling a low shot past Bravo.
City were creating chances but not finishing them and, just as in the past three home games in the Premier League, it was again proving costly.
The visitors were looking menacing every time they countered and on 70 minutes they went ahead. Costa broke clear of his own box and fed Willian who raced clear before drilling a low shot past Bravo to turn the game on its head.
There was still time for City to take something from the game, but the fact was Chelsea should have been out of the contest with an hour played.
Aguero and Silva went close to levelling matters but the longer the game went on, the more it felt as though it wasn’t going to be the Blues’ day - and so it proved as Hazard's injury time goal gave the visitors a slightly flattering 3-1 scoreline.
in the dying seconds, a late challenge by Aguero resulted in the Argentine being sent off and Fernandinho also dismissed to compound City's misery.
Without doubt the passage of play that had the Etihad roaring its disapproval came on 29 minutes.
Aguero accelerated towards Azpilicueta’s wayward back pass and had a clear run on goal when David Luiz made contact with him as he ran past. Referee Anthony Taylor put his whistle towards his mouth and hand in his pocket, but after a glance towards his assistants' unraised flag he waved play on.
To the majority it looked like a foul and a red card – but the official thought otherwise.
Man of the match: Jesus Navas
He created one goal and could have had another two assists in an impressive display by the Spaniard who worked hard both in attack and defence throughout.
Picture of the match
SO CLOSE: Had Kevin De Bruyne's close-range shot had gone in and not hit the bar it could have been a different outcome
City wrap up the group stage of the Champions League with the visit of Celtic on Tuesday evening. With qualification already assured, expect Pep Guardiola to make a number of rotational changes with next weekend’s trip to face champions Leicester City in mind.