Carlos Tevez inspires Manchester City comeback against Chelsea

Manchester City 2 Chelsea 1

Carlos Tevez returned a hero as he helped inspire a triumphant Manchester City comeback against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium.

With City trailing to Gary Cahill's deflected opener, and their title hopes about to suffer a potentially fatal blow, Tevez was given 24 minutes to do something about it.

And the controversial South American answered the call.

First Tevez began the move that ended with Sergio Aguero equalising from the penalty spot.

Then, five minutes from time, he created the opening which allowed Samir Nasri to grab a precious three points.

It was City's 20th Premier League home win on the trot, a new record. Far more importantly, it cut Manchester United's lead at the top to a single point.

Both sides had come into the game with central defensive problems.

In the absence of Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott, Roberto Mancini solved his by moving Micah Richards into the centre as Kolo Toure's partner and picking Pablo Zabaleta at full-back.

Chelsea were more straightforward as Gary Cahill and David Luiz were given the job of subduing Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero.

The importance of victory for the hosts could hardly be understated and they tore into their opponents from the first whistle.

Zabaleta had a shot deflected wide and David Silva scooped another over before Nasri rattled the crossbar.

The former Arsenal man might not have lived up to the lofty expectations of him following his summer move north, but he remains a class act.

And after taking down Yaya Toure's long pass magnificently on his chest, the Frenchman lifted his first-time shot over Petr Cech, only to see it come back off the bar.

Nasri was behind City's most incisive work but their next clear sight of goal did not come until the half hour mark, and then the architect was a member of the opposition.

Lampard was not thinking as he rolled a pass along the halfway line and Mario Balotelli seized possession and raced forward to leave the Chelsea defence streaming back in his wake.

However, Cech showed all his experience, staying tall and making the young Italian decide which way to go. Balotelli went left and Cech dived to push it round for a corner.

With Tottenham looming on Saturday, maybe a point would not have been the worst outcome for the visitors.

Their performance was certainly far removed from the thrilling display that eliminated Napoli from the Champions League seven days ago.

Fernando Torres was retained and he worked hard enough after finally breaking that long goal drought.

Juan Mata only got close enough to support once in the first half though, and his finish was poor.

In replacing Balotelli with Gareth Barry at half-time, Mancini was aiming to fill the midfield.

The England man did his job too as it was his tackle that helped create the attack that ended with Nasri firing a disappointing shot over from Toure's lay-off.

Again, City tightened their grip on the game.

Cech got his angles wrong as he attempted to push Nasri's cross over and succeeded only in shoving it against the bar instead.

Zabaleta turned the rebound into the six-yard box, where David Silva's flick was deflected wide and from the corner, Sergio Aguero hooked a shot over.

It was only a matter of time before the opener arrived. But no-one expected it to come at the other end.

City felt Luiz should have been penalised for a shove on Barry but referee Mike Dean ignored the protests, which allowed the ball to run on for Cahill.

His shot would have been saved by Joe Hart without the massive deflection off Yaya Toure that left the City keeper totally stranded.

That was the trigger for the arrival of Tevez.

For so long as the row over his non-appearance in Munich last September rumbled on, it seemed he had no future at the club. Against all odds, he is still here.

And while the Argentinian still looks like he could lose a pound or two after his extended career break, he retains the ability to make an impact.

It was his pass to fellow substitute Edin Dzeko that earned the corner from which Michael Essien handled Zabaleta's shot.

Aguero is now City's number one Argentinian penalty taker and he coolly sent Cech the wrong way.

But Tevez was not finished.

With five minutes left, he collected Nasri's pass on the edge of the area, turned and nicked the ball through to his team-mate, who had continued his burst into the box.

This time Nasri found the finish too, cheekily nicking the ball over the advancing Cech to send the stadium into uproar and breath fresh life into City's championship challenge.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine