Manchester City vs Chelsea match report: Sergio Aguero inspires City to emphatic win as John Terry is hauled off at half-time

Manchester City 3 Chelsea 0

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The Independent Football

We are only eight days into the new season and already Jose Mourinho is one doctor down, 16th in the Premier League table and has a captain wearing the expression of a man watching his home being repossessed. Chelsea have certainly started with a bang but the smoke is coming from under their own bonnet.

Diagnosis? Not yet critical, but with the potential to get much worse if things cannot be changed. With the caveat that these are early days, this was a wonderful performance from Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City team who took the initiative within the first 20 seconds of the game and simply got stronger from there. It was City who looked invigorated, positive and full of confidence – if anything they looked like the defending champions.

There was a new three-tier South Stand open for the first time at the Etihad Stadium, and a team that looked radically different from the side that ceded the title so weakly at the turn of the year. Sergio Aguero, starting his first game of the season, was exceptional, and so too the likes of David Silva and Fernandinho but all the time you waited for Chelsea’s response and it never arrived.

The drama was heightened by Mourinho’s decision to substitute John Terry for the first time in 177 league games over the two spells that this manager-player partnership has been in existence. The explanation from Mourinho was that he wanted to play a higher line and in order to do so needed the pace of Kurt Zouma to defend further up the pitch, but Terry returned to watch the second half with a cloud over his head as grey as anything the Manchester climate serves up.

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John Terry looks on after his half-time substitution

When asked about the decision, Mourinho immediately adopted his own defensive line – reminding all concerned that it was he who had resurrected Terry’s Chelsea career. “I don’t know if you ask [Rafa] Benitez, Roberto Di Matteo who never played him,” he said. “I am the one who plays him every game, and recovered him in difficult moments with others managers. [I am] the one who has the right to look at the game and say ‘I want Zouma on the pitch’.

The prospect of a fissure opening between Mourinho and his 34-year-old captain is really the least of his worries, and both of them seem a bit long in the tooth for that now. Of more immediate concern was how brittle Chelsea look defensively – Mourinho admitted to a “fragility” – and what implications that might have for the rest of their season.

Mourinho tried to put a brave face on it all, claiming that Chelsea had enjoyed the better of a second half in which they eventually conceded two goals but the malaise goes a lot deeper than that. Gary Cahill was out of form and struggling with a bleeding nose. Diego Costa’s provocation schtick got little change of Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala. Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas were not the game-changers of 12 months ago.

 

Aguero gave City a well-deserved half-time lead and Kompany and Fernandinho scored in the last ten minutes. It was patently obvious that this Chelsea team need the kind of lift that only a player capable of breaking into their first XI can provide, and that is unlikely to be supplied by signing Baba Rahman, a second-choice left-back, or even John Stones from Everton.

Of course, it had to be this day that Chelsea found themselves reaching the break with too few medical staff to go around, and blood and bandages proliferating. After 45 minutes of being run all over the pitch by City, it was Chelsea’s recently down-sized medical department that found itself over-stretched.

The stand-in doctor Chris Hughes was still treating a blow to Cahill’s face that required cotton wool to staunch the bleeding, when Diego Costa was felled by Fernandinho’s elbow. In the meantime, the auxiliary medical team had to treat Costa who needed a bandage around the head and ended the half chasing his fellow Brazilian down the tunnel.

While this went on, Mourinho had to listen to the name of Eva Carneiro, his recently demoted doctor, being chanted around the stadium by the home support. “You’re getting sacked in the morning,” sang the City fans to the newly installed Chelsea medical team. And on top of that there were too few medics to go around. Truly, football has that miraculous habit of foiling the best-laid plans.

The opening stages had been grim for Mourinho as his team staggered from repelling one City attack after another. Three times in the first 17 minutes the goalkeeper Asmir Begovic saved instinctively from Aguero, including one fine stop in the first 20 seconds.

Cahill was struggling badly against the Argentine and found himself turned after 16 minutes and reliant on a second save from Begovic. The goal on 31 minutes was brilliantly worked with a ball in from the right from Jesus Navas, and an exchange with Yaya Toure before Aguero took the return on his chest and turned away from Cahill into space to score.

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Vincent Kompany celebrates City's second

The elbow by Fernandino on Costa should have been a red card, Mourino said later, and having been kicked earlier by Kompany, the Chelsea striker was in no mood to shake and make-up. It took a few of his team-mates and most of the backroom staff to stop him charging down the tunnel after Fernandinho.

Zouma replaced Terry at half-time and after the hour Mourinho brought on Juan Cuadrado for Ramires. He brought Fabregas back alongside Nemanja Matic but it made precious little difference.

In midfield for City, Fernandino was outstanding and Toure’s work rate appeared to have climbed steeply. The best chance for Chelsea came when Fernandinho slipped in midfield and allowed Hazard a run at goal. But Chelsea lingered over the shot itself and Joe Hart saved. In the seconds after Mourinho’s third substitution – Radamel Falcao for Willian – the second, decisive goal came.

That was the second header in two games from Kompany and, like the one against West Bromwich Albion six days earlier, was from a Silva corner. The final goal, with Chelsea stretched, was buried by Fernandinho. It is a rare sight to see Mourinho’s team so completely beaten with five minutes left. Everywhere he looked he saw players who had come off second best, and the question will now be whether he can afford to trust them to change.

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Sagna, Mangala, Kompany, Kolarov; Toure, Fernandinho; Navas (Nasri, 65), Silva, Sterling (Demichelis, 79); Aguero (Bony, 83).

Substitutes not used: Caballero (gk), Zabaleta, Clichy, Iheanacho.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (Zouma, ht), Azpilicueta; Ramires (Cuadrado, 64), Matic; Willian (Falcao, 79), Fabregas, Hazard; Costa.

Substitutes not used: Blackman (gk), Falcao, Mikel, Remy, Loftus-Cheek.

Referee: M Atkinson

Man of the match: Fernandinho

Rating: 8

Booked: Manchester City Kompany, Fernandinho, Toure Chelsea Ivanovic, Hazard

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