Date:Saturday February 27 2010
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.
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Date:Saturday February 27 2010
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