City`s title push put on hold after loss to Chelsea
City’s hopes of being crowned Premier League champions were frustrated as Pep Guardiola’s side lost out 2-1 at home by Chelsea.
Knowing victory at the Etihad would see us regain the title, we gained a 44th minute lead thanks to Raheem Sterling’s close-range strike.
Sergio Aguero then saw a 45th minute penalty saved – and Chelsea hit back after the break as Hakim Ziyech levelled affairs on the hour.
However, though City strove to find a winner and saw a shout for a late penalty turned down, it was Cheslea who gained the winner, Marcos Alonso beating Ederson in injury time to seal the victory and ensure the race goes on – at least for 24 hours.
City boss Pep Guardiola opted to make nine changes from the side that swept Paris Saint-Germain aside in the Champions League semi-final – and tweak his tactical formation to a 5-1-4 set-up.
And, perhaps not surprisingly in the wake of their midweek European exertions, it proved a cagey, measured opening as both sides pressed and sought to get the measure of each other.
Chances proved at a premium in a patient, slow burn first half hour and while Chelsea’s Timo Werner did have the ball in the net on 31 minutes, the German was well offside.
But a passive first half suddenly exploded into life in a dramatic finale with City’s all-important breakthrough arriving on 44 minutes thanks to Sterling.
Jesus was the architect, seizing on an error by Christiansen on the left edge of the box, before the Brazilian unselfishly fed the ball across to the waiting Aguero.
The striker’s first touch was not the cleanest - but it proved no impediment as Sterling stole in on Kun’s blind side to apply the all-important close-range finish.
Our grip on the game – and a prospective third title in four years- could have been further tightened in first half injury time after Jesus was upended by Billy Gilmour in the box.
Referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot straight away.
However, Aguero could not apply the finish, his Panenka-type spot-kick misfiring and allowing Mendy the most comfortable of saves.
But there was still work to do for City with Chelsea noticeably stepping up the intensity after the break.
And it was Tuchel’s side who drew level on 63 minutes through Hakim Ziyech.
City were disposed and a swift counter through Alonso and Pulisic saw the ball find Ziyech on the edge of the area and the Moroccan fired home past Ederson into the bottom corner.
With both sides striving for a winner, Jesus weaved his way at the heart of the visitors’ defence only for the shot to drift wide.
Chelsea then had the ball in the City twice through Werner and Hudson-Odoi – but fortunately on both occasions the strikers were offside.
Kurt Zouma then produced a crucial tackle to deny Sterling before Foden’s neat flick from Gundogan’s cross was inches wide.
Sterling was then updended by Zouma. Referee Taylor ruled no penalty and a VAR check also adjudged no spot-kick.
And to compound City’s frustration, deep into injury time Alonso then evaded the City defence to beat Ederson with an injury time flick and claim all three points for the Londoners.
WHAT IT MEANS
All the attention is now on Manchester United’s trip to Aston Villa. If United win or draw, the title race will continue but if they lose then we will be crowned champions.
After an intense period of high-profile matches, City now have six days respite before we are next in action.
We travel to Newcastle United next Friday evening (May 14th) for our penultimate Premier League away fixture.
Kick-off at St James’ Park is scheduled for 8pm.
Manchester City (1): Ederson; Cancelo, Aké, Rúben Dias, Laporte, Mendy (Zinchenko, 79’); Rodri, Ferran Torres (Gündogan, 70’), Sterling; Gabriel Jesus, Agüero (Foden, 70’)
Chelsea (2): Mendy; James, Azpilicueta, Christensen (Zouma, 45’), Rüdiger, Marcos Alonso; Kanté (Jorginho, 68’), Gilmour, Ziyech (Hudson-Odoi, 76’); Pulisic, Werner
Goals: 1-0, Sterling (44’), 1-1, Ziyech (63’), 1-2, Marcos Alonso (92’)
Referee: Anthony Taylor. Bookings: Sterling (12’), Laporte (72’), Gabriel Jesus (90’)