Manchester City vs Chelsea match report: Frank Lampard shows no joy after denying Chelsea victory

Manchester City 1 Chelsea 1

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The Independent Online

In the pre-match briefing document prepared for his players on Manchester City’s strengths and weaknesses, Jose Mourinho will no doubt have noted the tendency of the opposition’s No 18 to make late runs into the penalty area and score important goals.

After all, Frank Lampard has made a career out of doing just that: the problem, even at the age of 36, is stopping him doing it.

His 85th-minute equaliser was the most dramatic twist in an afternoon that took its time coming to the boil but was well worth the wait. The equaliser was a genuine double-take moment. Having connected with James Milner’s cross and denied Chelsea victory, Lampard embarked upon the most mawkish, low-key goal celebrations in the history of players scoring goals against former clubs.

Forty years since Denis Law did the same for City against Manchester United, Lampard took that particular art to a new, even more understated level. For the travelling support who had sung Lampard’s name all afternoon, in defiance of any suggestion there is animosity, it was one of those moments they will find very hard to forget.

The mood was very different on the City bench, where Manuel Pellegrini had sent Lampard on as a 78th-minute substitute for Aleksandar Kolarov with his team a goal down and reduced to 10 men following the red card for Pablo Zabaleta on 66 minutes. They had been beaten home and away last season in the league by Chelsea and another defeat for Pellegrini, always just a few degrees below boiling when it comes to facing Mourinho, would have been hard for him  to take.

As ever this was a Mourinho performance somewhere on the spectrum between brilliance and cynicism, and when his substitute André Schürrle struck with less than 20 minutes left, he must have believed he could win.

 

Pellegrini later accused Chelsea of a “small team” mentality and having come to City only to defend. Mourinho spat back that the City manager should stick to his former promise not to talk about Chelsea. The dismissal of Zabaleta will do nothing to change Pellegrini’s mind, with the City view very much that Diego Costa, Mourinho’s alter ego on the pitch, played a key part in the red card.

Nevertheless, Lampard’s late equaliser was the kind of twist of the knife for Mourinho that he is more accustomed to inflicting than sustaining. He flatly refused to discuss Lampard post-match, a sure sign that he felt it keenly. The suggestion was that Mourinho wanted to give Lampard another year’s contract but the club felt that it was time to move their all-time record goalscorer on and so he went to New York City – and then to their sister club on loan.

Lampard.jpg It was a game that burst into life in the last 25 minutes. Before then there were some intriguing personal battles on the pitch – nowhere more than Vincent Kompany against Costa – but there was too much at stake for either team to commit to the kind of attack that would force  the issue.

You would be hard-pressed to recall a significant chance before the break. On 29 minutes the ball sat up nicely for Fernandinho on the edge of the Chelsea area and he sliced his shot so badly he turned his back on it immediately in disgust – it did not even go out for a goal-kick.

There were only three different names in the Chelsea first XI to the side Mourinho selected in February in the 1-0 win for Chelsea at the Etihad. They were Thibaut Courtois for Petr Cech, Cesc Fabregas instead of the departed David Luiz and Costa in place of Samuel Eto’o, now also gone. On paper this is a better Chelsea team, but then Pellegrini was not about to make the same mistakes either.

Courtois.jpg
Courtois could do nothing to stop Lampard's shot

He took a risk by selecting Eliaquim Mangala in the centre of defence, a risk given that he had not previously played a single competitive minute for the club since his transfer from Porto. In the event, Mangala had an assured game alongside Kompany, while in the midfield they traded fouls. Cesar Azpilicueta was booked for a kick on David Silva; Silva and Yaya Touré were booked for challenges on Willian.

By far the standout chance of the game in that first hour fell to Sergio Aguero on 57 minutes when he turned away from Fabregas in the box and hit a shot low to the left of Courtois which the young goalkeeper did well to stop. It fell invitingly for Edin Dzeko in the area but Ramires, always a useful man in an emergency like that, reacted first and got the ball away.

These are the small details upon which a game can turn. Five minutes later, Mourinho brought on Schürrle and John Obi Mikel, moved Fabregas into the No 10 position and soon after Chelsea scored. At the centre of it all was Zabaleta’s red card, a tangle with Costa that ended badly for the Argentine. You could not help but feel that he played into the hands of the striker.

Zabaleta was already on a booking when he went into the challenge with Costa, initially winning the ball and then, when he went back in for a second bite at it, fouling his opponent. The Chelsea man made the most of it, rolling over, squaring up and then prising Zabaleta’s conciliatory hand off his head. It all added to the drama of the incident, and when the dust had settled, Mike Dean showed a yellow card to both men.

Zabaleta had fouled Costa but whether it measured up as another booking given some of the other tackles during the afternoon is dubious. Bacary Sagna was sent on for Dzeko. City’s shape was shot.

The goal was beautifully worked by Chelsea, coming from the left to Branislav Ivanovic, on to Costa and then out wide to Eden Hazard on the right. He sent his cross to the back post and it was met by Schürrle with his left foot.

City were desperate not to go down again at home to Chelsea and Lampard came on for Kolarov with 12 minutes left, with the away fans singing his name. Shortly afterwards, Costa hit the post and then Milner, who had been excellent, picked out Lampard for the goal. He had to leave Chelsea at some point, and one supposes this summer was as good as any. Even so, it was a hell of a way to say goodbye.

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Mangala, Kolarov (Lampard, 78); Fernandinho (Navas, 73), Toure; Milner, Silva, Aguero; Dzeko (Sagna, 70).

Substitutes not used: Caballero (gk), Demichelis, Clichy, Nasri.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic; Ramires (Schurrle, 62), Willian (Mikel, 62), Hazard; Costa (Drogba, 86)

Substitutes not used: Cech (gk), Felipe Luis, Oscar, Remy.

Booked: Manchester City Zabaleta, Silva, Toure Chelsea Ramires, Azpilicueta, Costa, Ivanovic

Sent off: Zabaleta

Referee: M Dean

Man of the match: Kompany

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