Premier League – City hold off Chelsea in thriller
City ended a run of seven consecutive draws in a thrilling encounter that served notice of their ambitions, and the result will be celebrated on both sides of Manchester after reducing Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premier League to two points.
Adebayor inadvertently gave Chelsea the lead with an own-goal on eight minutes, but restored parity with a close range shot eight minutes before half-time. Tevez’s free-kick put City in front in the 56th minute, before Lampard squandered his late chance to grab a point.
Chelsea made the brighter start, with the irrepressible Didier Drogba quickly into his stride. The Ivorian nearly profited from calamitous dallying by Joleon Lescott on six minutes, and seconds later shot at Shay Given following a superb backheel by Deco.
But the visitors would not be denied, and went in front in bizarre fashion from a disputed corner. Drogba, somehow, was left unmarked at the far post and headed into the path of Branislav Ivanovic, who shot straight at Given. The rebound fell to Nicolas Anelka, whose shot was also saved, but the ball popped up off Given, hit Adebayor on the back and looped over the line.
It was soon one each. A headed clearance fell to Shaun Wright-Phillips, who fired a half-volley goalwards that hit Richards on the hand and fell to Adebayor, who slotted the ball inside the left-hand post from close range,
Adebayor joins a list of City players to score for both teams headlined by Tommy Hutchinson, who found the net for both City and Tottenham Hotspur in the 1981 FA Cup final.
City’s dominance extended after the break, when Wright-Phillips pulled back for Adebayor who shot disappointingly wide. On 56 minutes, Carvalho challenged with a high foot for a bouncing ball, then compounded his crime by leaving his studs in on Tevez.
The Argentine exacted instant revenge. He curled a low free-kick past the right edge of the wall, but it should have presented Cech with a relatively straightforward save. However the goalkeeper, anticipating a shot towards the other corner, had already moved to his right and was wrong-footed as the ball scooted into the net.
Chelsea lost their discipline, and ended up with six players booked including Ashley Cole, who appeared to repeat his infamous crime of turning his back on the referee – although this time Howard Webb called him back to deliver the card face-to-face.
Where there is Drogba, there is hope, and – despite the usual histrionics and feigned injuries – he was his usual dangerous self. Yet the Ivorian was unusually inaccurate with his finishing, heading wide twice and shooting off-target having been played brilliantly through by Michael Essien.
With eight minutes remaining, Chelsea had their lifeline, as Nedum Onuoha – on for the injured Micah Richards – felled Drogba and Webb correctly pointed to the spot.
Lampard, normally so deadly from 12 yards, fired a low shot to Given’s right and the Irishman parried before City hacked the ball to safety.
A late Chelsea flurry came to nothing and City held on to record a landmark victory. Though still just sixth in the table, Mark Hughes’s side have now lost fewer games than anyone else in the Premier League.
Alex Chick / Eurosport