Manchester City’s 14-match undefeated run has come to an end tonight at the hands of Chelsea.
A rain-sodden Stamford Bridge was the venue for the Premier League’s Monday night football fixture which saw the Blues come from behind against the league leaders – who were reduced to ten men – to win 2-1.
Mario Balotelli’s early goal was canceled out when Raul Meireles equalised in the 34th minute before City lost Gael Clichy to a second bookable offence with just over half an hour remaining. Andre Villas-Boas’ men took advantage of the beneficial number in personnel and grabbed the lead late when Frank Lampard converted from the penalty spot to help his side move to third above Tottenham and Arsenal with three wins on the trot.
The match got off to a horrendous start for Chelsea as the rain fell heavily at The Bridge when Balotelli put his side up inside two minutes. The Italian received a neat pass from Sergio Aguero outside the area before beating off Branislav Ivanovic and then rounding Petr Cech to slot home into an empty net for his eighth league goal of the campaign.
Chelsea were looking quite out of their depth during the first half but managed to find a leveler just over 30 minutes after Balotelli’s opener when ex-City striker Daniel Sturridge took Clichy on down the right before cutting a pinpoint pass into the path of Meireles who finished with a deft side-footed volley from the edge of the six-yard box.
The tide began to turn in favour of Chelsea after their leveler and it did so even further just prior to the hour-mark when Clichy received a second yellow card for his challenge on Ramires, reducing the visitors to ten men.
With just under ten minutes remaining, Chelsea won a penalty when Sturridge swung a shot goalward from just insde the area which struck the arm of Joleon Lescott giving referee Mark Clattenburg no option but to point to the spot. Substitute Frank Lampard was honoured with taking the spot-kick and the veteran midfielder stepped up to hammer his shot straight down the middle giving Joe Hart no chance and putting the Blues a goal ahead.
Earlier, Aguero wasn’t far off when he beat two Chelsea defenders before wrapping his left foot around before David Silva was unlucky not to have won a penalty when Jose Bosingwa clipped him inside the area.
In the 25th minute, Drogba forced a reflex save from Hart with a cheeky shot from a tight angle amongst City bodies prior to Meireles escaping a potential red card for his studs up challenge not long after scoring.
Sturridge sent his half-volley early in the second half over the crossbar and Balotelli tested Cech with a dipping shot from range as City were beginning to run out of options with 20 minutes left and in the end, Roberto Mancini and his all-conquering charges had to settle for no points for the first time this season to see their lead over second-placed Manchester United cut to two points.
TRIBAL ASKS: Things are beginning to get a little bit tricky for Man City now. Do they have the bottle to deal with all the challenges that will be thrown at them?
Stamford Bridge, Southwest London
Red card: MANC - Gael Clichy 58’