Manchester City defeated Chelsea 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday to make it two wins from their opening two Premier League fixtures.
On the balance of play, the 3-0 score line was just about fair. City’s scorers on the day were Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho.
The game started at an incredibly fast tempo; City should’ve been one up inside the first minute. David Silva’s brilliant through ball found Sergio Aguero, but the Argentine’s finish was uncharacteristically tame and Asmir Begovic saved comfortably.
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The Aguero vs. Begovic duel was the main talking point of the first half an hour of play. On the 16th minute, Begovic saved well down to his left-hand side to deny Aguero, the striker’s instant control and strength were proving difficult for John Terry and Gary Cahill to deal with.
A minute later, Begovic denied Aguero again, with an almost identical save. Jesus Navas was the provider this time, his low cross was met powerfully by Aguero, but the strike was just too close to Chelsea’s excellent stand-in keeper.
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Manchester City were finding plenty of space to play in between Chelsea’s midfield and defensive lines. Cesc Fabregas, who was being deployed in a central defensive position, was struggling to cope with the movement and pace of Aleksander Kolarov, Silva and Raheem Sterling on City’s left-hand side.
Chelsea’s first chance came after 20 minutes when Nemanja Matic failed to direct Eden Hazard’s powerful cross towards goal. On the whole, Chelsea had been ineffective as an attacking force after the first half an hour of the game and Joe Hart had not been forced into one single save.
The inevitable breakthrough came after 31 minutes when Aguero finally managed to beat Begovic. The goal was typical of Aguero, who received the ball from Silva, played a nice give and go with Yaya Toure, turned past Gary Cahill, before rolling a measured, left-footed finish into the bottom corner.
City were the deserved leaders, but there were some signs towards the end of the half that Chelsea were starting to come back into the game. The away team began keeping the ball more efficiently, and Fabregas came close to levelling the game, but his 20 yard strike whistled just past Joe Hart’s goal, much to the relief of England’s number one.
At half time, City shaded the possession statistics but dominated the shots on goal count; they had mustered up nine shots, four of them on target, compared to Chelsea’s four attempts, all of which failed to trouble Joe Hart in City’s goal.
John Terry was substituted for Kurt Zouma at the break; the first time in 177 Premier League games that Mourinho taken off his captain, read into that what you may.
Chelsea started the second half as the brighter of the two teams. On 50 minutes, Ramires was denied a goal when he was adjudged offside, replays, however, showed that the Brazilian looked level with City's defence. The disallowed strike was created by Fabregas, who played a delightful chipped pass forward to Ramires, who prodded home from close range.
The disallowed goal gave Chelsea belief that they could level the game. Cesar Azpilicueta was starting to support Chelsea’s attacks from the left-hand side, however, unlike Aleksander Kolarov on the other side, he was constantly having to check back onto his right foot before delivering any sort of forward delivery for Diego Costa, which was giving City’s defence ample time prepare for any oncoming pressure.
Juan Cuadrado was brought on for Ramires in the 64th minute, a change which clearly showed Jose Mourinho’s attacking intent.
With 70 minutes on the clock, Chelsea should’ve been level. Eden Hazard, who up to this point had been largely ineffective, spearheaded Chelsea’s counter attack and dropped his shoulder wonderfully to elude Eliaquim Mangala, his shot, however, was straight at Joe Hart.
Manchester City effectively slowed down the tempo in the middle stages of the second half to try and nullify Chelsea’s attacking threat. Martin Demicheles replaced Raheem Sterling, a sign that Manuel Pellegrini was happy for his team’s focus to be on defending the lead, rather than increasing it.
The lead, however, was increased just a moment later when Vincent Kompany powerfully headed home an out swinging David Silva corner, the second time this partnership has proved fruitful for City already this season.
Toure almost increased the home side’s lead three minutes later with a well-struck 25-yard shot, Begovic, though, again saved well down to his left-hand side.
The game was put beyond any doubt after 85 minutes thanks to a beautifully struck effort from Fernandinho. The ball fell to the Brazilian midfielder on the edge of Chelsea’s box after some good pressing play from Silva. Fernandinho still had plenty to do when the ball rolled across his body, but he connected powerfully the strike and left Begovic with absolutely no chance.
Chelsea almost scored a consolation in the 93rd minute when Fabregas played a pass to Costa, who outsprinted Kolarov, his effort, however, hit the post. The rebound fell to Falcao, his strike, though, was saved by the feet of Joe Hart.
Unsurprisingly, the two managers were in contrasting moods after the game.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho said: "We were the best team by far in the second half. What they did in the first we did in the second.
"Their goalkeeper was good and we couldn't score. They were only coming up with long balls. Not one single problem in the second half; they had lots."
In summary, a triumphant Manuel Pellegrini said: “Today we made a complete game, not only because we scored three goals but in the first 45 minutes we could have scored three more. Only the great performance of Asmir Begovic was the reason why we couldn't."
Man City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Sagna, Kompany, Mangala, Kolarov; Fernandinho, Toure; Sterling, Silva, Navas; Aguero.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilcueta; Matic, Fabregas; Ramires, Willian, Hazard; Costa.
Man of the match: Fernandinho
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