Manchester City capitalized Joe Hart’s fine penalty save from Frank Lampard in the second half as they went on to pick up a valuable three points with a 2-0 win over Chelsea at the Etihad courtesy of goals from Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez.
After City had the best of the first half, but created few opportunities from open play, Chelsea had the opportunity to go ahead from the penalty spot. But Joe Hart saved fantastically from Frank Lampard and City came back with renewed vigor and deserved to take the lead from Yaya Toure’s clever finish in the 63rd minute. Carlos Tevez then came off the bench to make the points safe with a powerful shot from outside the box late on.
The result takes City back to 12 points behind Premier League leaders and keeps the title race just alive for at least another week.
It was a fully warranted three points too against the side a place below them in the standings.
City began with just Sergio Aguero up front, but while their attacking threat was limited for the opening period, they were able to get a stranglehold on the game in the midfield.
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It was one of the players brought in to reinforce the midfield, Jack Rodwell, who had several opportunities from aerial balls into the box. Time and again the former Everton man, making his first league start since September, managed to find space in the area from set pieces. He was unable to make the most of Chelsea’s lax marking, though, whether it be heading too close to Petr Cech or missing the target.
City will also lament the seeming lack of confidence in front of goal of Aguero. Twice in the first half he was played in behind but failed to show ample conviction as first he went far too wide as he tried to take it round Cech and on another occasion elected to play the ball back to the edge of the area when a shot looked on the cards.
Yet, against the run of play, it was Chelsea who had a golden chance to take the lead just six minutes after the break. Demba Ba ran onto a ball over the top and moved to go round Hart, but, although the England goalkeeper tried to pull out the challenge, he still made enough contact to bring the striker down and a penalty was awarded.
Few would have bet against the usually so reliable Lampard not finding the net, but Hart produced a stunning save low to his right to keep the scores level.
The save appeared to be the turning point in giving City greater attacking impetus that was aided by the arrival of Carlos Tevez just a few minutes later.
But Aguero was again struggling to make the most of his opportunities. Twice in quick succession the Argentinean forward got in behind Gary Cahill, but first the England defender was able to recover well to block a shot and with the next chance Aguero chipped just over the bar.
To Aguero’s relief the misses would not prove costly. Just seconds after his brother Kolo, had defended well to deny Ramires a strike at goal, Yaya Toure opened the scoring after he received Silva’s pull back and drifted too easily past two defenders before been given too much space by Cahill to pass the ball inside the far corner of the net.
Chelsea rarely looked like recovering after going behind and, with five minutes remaining the result was put beyond doubt.
Tevez received the ball centrally just over 20 yards out and with no Chelsea player closing him down, the forward unleashed a powerful drive that rifled into the net to leave Cech with little chance.
The task of retaining their title is still an enormous one but City manager Roberto Mancini will be encouraged not only by the result but also by his side’s improved performance.