Lampard saves City in favour of Blues
Written By: Robert Halter
Two of the Premier League heavyweights were boxed together at the Etihad Stadium on September 21, as the eagerly anticipated clash between Manchester City and Chelsea was staged. Blues keeper, Thibaut Courtois collected the ball for the first time on nine minutes to pick up Yaya Toure’s header from a David Silva corner, to make a Citizens arrest. On the half hour mark, Segio Aguero fired over, as first half chances were few and far between, despite City claiming the lion’s share of possession. Towards the end of the first forty five minutes, a Cesc Fabregas corner was flicked on by Branislav Ivanovic and as the ball evaded Fernandinho, the outstretched leg of Diego Costa was unable to get a connection, as the Blues finally look dangerous in the City final third. Two minutes into the re-start, Courtois made a routine save, after comfortably holding onto Aguero’s low drive. Following a short corner between James Milner and Silva, the ball broke to Fernandinho as City’s debutant Eliaquim Mangala tussled with Costa from a deflection off Nemanja Matic, but the shot was dragged wide by Fernandinho in the fifty fourth minute. But two minutes later, Courtois made the first meaningful save of the match, diving low to beat away a well driven strike from Aguero, as Edin Dzeko ballooned the rebound over from a challenge by Ramires. Chelsea made a double change with John Obi Mikel on for Willian and the replacement of Ramires for Andre Schurrle. But on sixty six minutes, referee Mike Dean produced a second yellow for Pablo Zabaleta, after his challenge on Costa, and Zabaleta was sent off having been booked in the first half for an infringement on Eden Hazard. It forced the hand of City’s boss, Manuel Pellegrini, who had to sacrifice Dzeko for Bacary Sagna. Chelsea exploited the extra man advantage with a superb counter attack as Ivanovic linked up with Costa, whose threaded pass to Hazard resulted in a telling cross to Schurrle, who tucked the ball past Joe Hart, in the seventy first minute. Another City change was made with Jesus Navas taking the place of Fernandinho. After Hart collected a free header by Costa from a Schurrle free kick following a foul on Hazard by Aleksandar Kolarov, it was the old guard against the new, as Frank Lampard appeared against his former Blues in place of Kolarov. In the eightieth minute, Costa went close to scoring, when he turned his shot against the foot of the right post, having received a pass from Fabregas. City were clutching at straws, when Silva miscued past the target, two minutes later. This all changed when incredibly, Lampard came back to haunt his old club, after Silva set Milner free on the left, who in turn supplied Lampard, whose accomplished finish turned past Courtois as his former captain John Terry was left waiting in the wings, but out of respect to Chelsea, Lampard had a muted celebration with his City team mates. Against the odds, ten men Manchester City had found a way back into the game, as Costa made way for Didier Drogba for the final Chelsea change. Although the headlines were made by the Blues former highest scorer, after Lampard had rescued the game for the Citizens, but the Blues away fans hadn’t forgot his past achievements, as he received a rapturous applause at the end, as City’s on loan player from New York City, kept them within six points of table toppers Chelsea, after a hard fought draw.