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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at Etihad Stadium

Chelsea deserve hard fought-for point in 1-1 draw away to champions Manchester City

Manchester City v Chelsea Picture: Paul Lagan
Manchester City v Chelsea Picture: Paul Lagan

By Paul Lagan at Etihad Stadium

Man City 1 v Chelsea 1

“Don't worry about a thing, every little thing will be alright,” chanted the Chelsea faithful and do you know what – it was alright.

The 1-1 draw at the Etihad, 1-0 up until the final eight minutes, against the current Premier League and World club champions wasn't bad at all.

Many doom sayers were perhaps rightly expecting City to hammer the west Londoners, but the Blues have reserved some of their better performances against sides who are willing to have a go.

While this could not match the extraordinary 4-4 draw at the Bridge earlier in the season, this game had drama, missed chances – from both sides,, some last-ditch defending, silly fouls given away, but total commitment from both set of players – something the City team probably wasn't expecting.

But consistency is the way forward for this batch of players and next week's Carabao Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley will be another test of that.

The opening exchanges were cagy, with Chelsea, understandably worried about an early City onslaught.

But the visitors showed admirable intensity, if not for attacking but for individual duels.

But it's impossible to prevent City from getting an effort on goal, and on 12 minutes Erling Haaland had a glorious chance but he headed over Djordje Petrovic's crossbar from close range.

Raheem Sterling had a shot of sorts, on target two minutes late, but nothing that troubled Ederson.

Chelsea had a glorious chance to open the score on 22 minutes. A quick counter-attack found Sterling on the right. He curled the ball in to the path of in-running Nicolas Jackson. He controlled the ball well, but rather than slot the ball home, he could only hit the ball at Ederson, who smothered the chance.

The home crowd became increasingly frustrated and the game suddenly opened up. VAR looked at a possible penalty for City when Haaland and Chilwell clashed but ruled against.

On 33 minutes, Sterling found himself free to attack on goal. But panicked, unsure if he was offside or not, but the moment was gone, and the ball dribbled to a gleeful Ederson.

Sensationally, with four minutes left of the half, another quick counter-attack happened for the Blues.

This time it was Jackson on the right. He produced an inch-perfect inswinging curler straight to the feel of Sterling.

The former City hitman. took a touch before rounding Manuel Akanji and caressing the ball past the desperate lunge of Ederson and the ball nestled in to the back of his net.

City responded well but Chelsea's rearguard held firm.

Haaland got a tad closer with a glancing header from a Nathan Ake cross, suggesting that it might just be a matter of time before the home side broke through.

There were no changes by either side at half-time Kevin De Bruyne was inches away with an edge of the penalty area free-kick , two minutes after the restart. But his right-footed curler clipped the top netting of the Chelsea goal.

A quick break by the home side almost reaped dividends but Haaland was unable to provide the final control of the ball and the move ended frustratingly for the home side.

Chelsea were then bombarded by pressure from the home side, but the visitors clung on.

It was going to take either an error by the Blues at the back or a sublime piece of play by City – both were possible if they were going to equalise.

Meanwhile referee Andrew Madley had lost patience with the time-wasting of Petrovic to take kicks and he was given a yellow card on 61 minutes.

Sterling's day was up a minute later – he left the field with his side 1-0 and was replaced by attacking midfielder Christopher Nkunku.

Petrovic thwarted Haaland with a lovely acrobatic save on 64 minutes as the home side edged closer to a leveller.

Trevoh Chalobah made his long-awaited return to action from a hamstring injury with 20 minutes left.

Off went Cole Palmer

Haaland was again culpable with a terribly poor executed header on 78 minutes when, free in the box, he headed wide.

Young Italian Cesare Casadei came on for Jackson with nine minutes left of the regulation 90.

But before the 21-year old had time to make his first touch, City finally broke the rearguard, and it was a tad lucky as Rodri's edge-of-the area left-footer took a slight deflection off Chalobah's thigh on the way to the back of the net.

But the sheer power was enough to put the ball between the sticks and City got a deserved equaliser.

Seconds from the end there was a call for a penalty and VAR had a look – it cheered up the home crowd, but was quickly ruled not to be.

And that was that.

Teams: Chelsea: Petrovic, Disasi, Sterling, Enzo, Jackson, Palmer, Chilwell, Gallagher, Caicedo, Colwill, Gusto

Subs: Bettinelli, Mudryk, Noni, Chalobah, Nkunku, Casadei, Gilchrist, Samuels-Smith, Harrison

Man City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Ake, Haaland, Doku, Rodri, De Bruyne, Alvarez, Akanji, Foden

Subs: Ortega, Stones, Kovacic, Silva, Gomez, Nunes, Bobb, Susoho, Lewis


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