What a treat! Franco Zola back at Stamford Bridge; sitting in the press box for the Chelsea v Manchester City game. And how Chelsea needed him! If only we could have turned back the clock, handed him a blue shirt with 25 on the back and given him free rein in the second half, the
What a treat! Franco Zola back at Stamford Bridge; sitting in the press box for the Chelsea v Manchester City game. And how Chelsea needed him!
If only we could have turned back the clock, handed him a blue shirt with 25 on the back and given him free rein in the second half, the outcome might have been different.
As it was, Pep Guardiola gained revenge for the Champions League final defeat in Porto by reversing the scoreline from that epic battle and leaving SW6 with a 1-0 league victory.
It was a fortuitous goal that separated the sides, owing everything to a maddening deflection after Gabriel Jesus had stabbed a shot towards Eddie Mendy, minding goal at the Shed End.
It happened early in the second half – 53 minutes gone, to be exact – but in truth the Blues, playing their customary hit-em-on-the-break style, never controlled possession or managed the game with their usual aplomb.
Guardiola got his tactics spot-on, leaving Thomas Tuchel fuming in frustration as the final seconds ticked away. It was a deserved win for City, and a dent in the Blues’ title-chasing hopes.
Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner were denied serious goal-scoring chances by a masterful City midfield, who harried Chelsea and pinned the players back in their own half for long spells of this absorbing game.
Zola, who was being interviewed on the pitch at halftime by the TV crews, caused a stir when he sat down with less than 10 minutes to go before kick-off. He signed a shirt, posed for endless selfies and then watched a goalless first half which saw City win NINE corners to Chelsea’s one… a fair reflection of the balance of play.
The Blues began on the back foot, and stayed on the back foot. After eight minutes of the second half, Kevin De Bruyne took City’s 10th corner, and from the resulting play, Jesus turned and fired a relatively innocuous shot at Mendy, who was completed wrong-footed when it deflected in off a defender’s leg.
Chelsea did get the ball in City’s net after 63 minutes, when sub Kai Havertz linked up with Lukaku… but Havertz was well offside, and it was ruled out.
As the game became more fractious, Aymeric Laporte and Phil Foden were booked for City, while Marcos Alonso, Andreas Christensen and Tony Rudiger were all booked for Chelsea by ref Michael Oliver.
City held on through the four minutes of stoppage time, and the Blues fans left for Fulham Broadway station with that rare and uncomfortable losing feeling.