Football

Lampard sinks City from spot

Lampard celebrates his winner for Chelsea. (©GettyImages)
Lampard celebrates his winner for Chelsea. (©GettyImages).

Chelsea inflicted a first defeat of the season on Manchester City to throw the Barclays Premier League title race back open.

With pressure on Andre Villas-Boas ahead of the league-leaders visit to Stamford Bridge, it was left to substitute Frank Lampard, left out of the manager's starting 11 once again, to fire home the winner from the penalty spot.

Mario Balotelli had given the vistors the lead inside two minutes, but Raul Meireles leveled midway through the period to give the Blues a much-needed confidence boost at the interval.

Gael Clichy's second-half dismissal proved pivotal before a handball decision went against Joleon Lescott on 80 minutes - Lampard subsequently struck from 12 yards.

City made the best possible start, scoring less than two minutes into proceedings when Balotelli latched onto Sergi Aguero's through ball.

The Italian striker rode the challenge of Branislav Ivanovic, and instead of going down rounded keeper Petr Cech to slot home into an empty net.

Roberto Mancini's side kept up the pressure, with some fantastic passes opening up the hosts defence. Aguero went close to doubling the advantage before referee denied David Silva a penalty - Jose Bosingwa lucky to get away with a clear trip in the box.

It worked to the hosts advantage, and after Didier Drogba forced Joe Hart into a save, Meireles grabbed the equaliser on 34 minutes.

Some great work from Daniel Sturridge on the right flank created space for a cross, and Meireles drifted off Yaya Toure to volley home past the England keeper.

With the scores level at the inteval, Clichy picked up his first booking a minute after the break, and it was to prove costly 12 minutes later when the full-back brought down Ramires on the edge of the box and received his marching orders.

The hosts struggled to instantly create chances as Mancini shuffled his pack defensively, but resistence was broken courtesy of a handball in the box with ten minutes remaining - Joleon Lescott ajudged to had handled Sturridge's strike in the box.

Substitute Lampard stepped-up just nine days after seeing his spot kick saved at Newcastle, and smashed the ball down the middle past Hart to secure a vital victory for Villas-Boas' men.

The Blues subsequently looked to run-down the clock, and were successful in keeping possesion as City failed to create an equalising opportunity in the final stages of the match.

Defeat leaves City two-points clear of Manchester United at the top of the table, while Chelsea move up to third in the table - just seven points off the pace as their challenge for the title got well-and-truly back on track in west London.

Topics:
Football
Manchester City
Chelsea
Premier League
Mario Balotelli
Raul Meireles

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