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Man City 0-2 Chelsea


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Manchester City 0 - 2 Chelsea FC

April 5 2008, Premier League, Gameweek 33, City of Manchester Stadium, Greater Manchester

Man_City_11_569679.jpg

Chelsea applied further pressure on Premier League leaders Manchester United by beating their cross-town rivals Manchester City.


Chelsea were ahead inside six minutes thanks to a Richard Dunne own-goal, but the visiting side failed to extend their lead until the second half when Salomon Kalou rounded Joe Hart and slid the ball into an empty net. Carlo Cudicini denied Martin Petrov with an excellent parry and the Chelsea goalkeeper was also called into action to block Stephen Ireland's driven cross. Nicolas Anelka tested Joe Hart on two occasions, only to see both denied by the athleticism of the Manchester City shot-stopper.

Electing to make six changes from the side that was defeated 2-1 in Turkey by Fenerbahce, Avram Grant decided to field former Manchester City players Nicolas Anelka and Shaun Wright-Phillips - the former having scored the goal against Chelsea which led to their only league defeat of the 2004/05 season. Alex replaced the rested Ricardo Carvalho who, like Didier Drogba, was not selected on the bench. Juliano Belletti started at right-full-back and deployed both Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel at the centre of midfield. Kalou replaced Joe Cole, who was on the bench along with Michael Ballack, Andrei Shevchenko, Paulo Ferreira and Henrique Hilario.

Chelsea began the livelier of the two teams and were ahead through an unfortunate circumstance for City captain Richard Dunne. The Republic of Ireland international slid the ball into his own net when trying to cut out a cross from Nicolas Anelka, knowing that he had to try and divert the ball away or allow Essien a tap-in from five yards. He directed the ball into his own goal and beyond a bemused Joe Hart. For the second time in a week, Chelsea were ahead through an own goal.

City were looking like a side who had only emerged as victors in three of their last 15 Premier League matches - though one was a 1-2 away triumph at Old Trafford in the Manchester Derby. Chelsea were dominating and memories were cast back to November when Chelsea thumped their opponents 6-0 at Stamford Bridge, and another comfortable victory seemed on the cards, but for a brilliant last-ditch challenge by Nedum Onuoha, preventing Nicolas Anelka a clear run at goal.

Onuoha's challenge inspired City onwards, and went close several times as they closed the half the stronger of the two teams. Martin Petrov went wide with a driving effort from distance before Michael Johnson spurned an excellent chance to draw City level. The best chance fell to Stephen Ireland, who saw his shot brilliantly blocked by the stretching Belletti following excellent work by Benjani. Cudicini was almost fooled by the intelligence of Petrov, but he recovered to brilliantly palm away a brilliant shot by Martin Petrov - the Bulgarian seemed to be prepared to cross but instead arrowed an effort to the top corner, only to see the Italian 'keeper deny him. Defender Alex da Costa had to be at his best to deny Benjani a clear sight of goal - the Brazilian spreading himself well to block the former Portsmouth forward.

City started the second half the more adventurous of the two teams but Chelsea were looking comfortable despite the pressure being applied on them. Ashley Cole, who had earlier cleared off the line, had Elano Bulmer effectively marked out of the game and the home side were missing the Brazilian's influence. Avram Grant replaced the ineffective Wright-Phillips who received a standing ovation from the City faithful, before being replaced with Joe Cole.

The England winger's introduction had immediate effects as Anelka found space in the area, only to be denied once more by Onuoha, but it was not long before Salomon Kalou doubled the lead. Essien was again involved in the build-up, and his intelligent through ball between the two central defenders allowed Kalou the time and space to roll the ball in after taking it around Joe Hart. Hart, however, would not beat twice in similar fashion and denied Anelka brilliantly as the Frenchman looked to round the England you-21 custodian.

Joe Cole's presence was causing problems and a delightful pass by Frank Lampard after a one-two with Cole gave Anelka the opportunity to wrap up the win, but his header was palmed onto the crossbar spectacularly by Hart before being pushed away by the young goalkeeper. A truly wonderful save that prevented his team from suffering further embarrassment.

The final whistle blew and Chelsea can now focus on their crunch game with Fenerbahce at Stamford Bridge with renewed confidence.
___________________________________________________________________

Match Fact : Chelsea are 78 home league games unbeaten.

Man City: Hart (7), Corluka (6), Dunne (5), Onuoha (6) (Jihai Sun (6)), Ball (5), Ireland (7) (Caicedo (6)), Gelson (6), Johnson (6), Petrov (7), Elano (5) (Vassell (6)), Benjani (6).

Chelsea: Cudicini (7), Belletti (6) (Ferreira (6)), Alex (7), Terry (6), Ashley Cole (7), Essien (8), Mikel (6), Lampard (6), Wright-Phillips (5) (Joe Cole (7)), Anelka (8), Kalou (6).

Attendance: 42,594

Referee: Chris Foy (6)

Man of the Match : Nicolas Anelka

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