Chelsea 1-2 Man City: Blues Pay For Poor First Half As Aguero Sets Up Final Date

By on April 15, 2013

sergio aguero

Manchester City will face Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup final after a 2-1 win against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

City were most impressive in a first half which saw them take the lead as well as spurn numerous other chances. Samir Nasri struck for the 2011 winners 10 minutes before the break but it could have been much worse for Chelsea who made a tired start. But Sergio Aguero headed in after just two minutes of the re-start to put the Citizens in reach of the final.

Chelsea, who had been ineffective for the duration of the game suddenly sparked into life when Demba Ba converted spectacularly following a hopeful long ball. The Blues took the game to City with 25 minutes remaining but could not find an equaliser, despite what looked like a clear tug on substitute Fernando Torres’ shirt in the box.

Chelsea hoped to be as fresh as possible having rested several key men in their Europa League tie in Moscow on Thursday, but the fixture pile-up seemed to have taken its toll on a stretched squad. Ryan Bertrand and Branislav Ivanovich started among the back four while Juan Mata, Oscar, Eden Hazard, John Obi Mikel and Demba Ba also came back into the starting XI. Chelsea mainstays Frank Lampard and John Terry had to settle for a place each on the bench.

Despite the wholesale changes, Chelsea still appeared hungover from their midweek trip to Russia as City took control early on. The boundless energy of the attacking trio of Aguero, Nasri and Carlos Tevez had the Blues in knots and it was thanks to ‘keeper Petr Cech that City did not score earlier. Aguero managed to get something on the end of a Yaya Toure shot but Cech reacted well and moments later he was again at hand to deny Tevez after the Argentinian had let fly from a tight angle.

When Chelsea managed to venture forward their was little or no penetration and the City back line, which included Costel Pantilimon in goal in place of Joe Hart, were for the most part left untroubled. When they cleared their lines, Roberto Mancini’s men were quick in moving the ball and had Chelsea on the ropes as they flooded forward on numerous counter attacks. On one occasion Chelsea threatened, Hazard looped the ball goal-ward with ‘keeper Pantilimon way out of his net but Vincent Kompany read the danger and headed off the line.

City fans will remember their FA Cup semi final here two years ago when Yaya Toure put in a commanding performance, scoring the winning goal to put them into the final. And his love-affair with Wembley and the FA Cup resumed on this occasion, the Ivorian’s surging runs forward proving impossible to deal with for the Chelsea defence. And when Toure found Aguero in space, his blocked effort fell kindly to Nasri who was in the right place to put City into the lead, and deservedly so.

James Milner then spurned a glorious chance to make it two from six yards, with the goal at his mercy his shot beat Cech but smacked Aguero on the thigh. And just before half-time City captain Kompany wasted an even better chance, failing to finish a flying counter attack by lashing wide.

But City picked up where they left off in the second half, with Chelsea seemingly still in the changing room. Gareth Barry’s floated ball behind the Chelsea ranks looked to be heading out of play but Aguero- defying his size- leaped beautifully and steered his header high and beyond Cech who could only watch it go in.

Even now Chelsea still looked lost and there appeared to be only one outcome to this semi-final. But just as Torres was introduced for the inept Mikel, Chelsea grabbed a lifeline and it owed to a mixture of luck and an exquisite finish. A long David Luiz ball was allowed to bounce just inside the City area and Ba had just enough to hold of Kompany before acrobatically volleying past Pantilimon. It was not unlike his quarter final winner against Manchester United, and suddenly Chelsea were back in the tie with just over 20 minutes still to play.

Moments later Hazard slid the ball through for Mata, but despite Matija Nastasic’s attempted intervention, the Spaniard had a sight of goal. Pantilimon though was quick to react to the danger, rushing to Mata’s feet and blocking his route to goal. The stand-in ‘keeper then did brilliantly to save from Ba’s close range effort, while David Luiz struck a free-kick wide.

The 90,000 who had filled Wembley looked set to witness a dramatic finish to an enthralling game between England’s two richest clubs, and their attentions turned to referee Chris Foy who made two very big calls before the end. First only a yellow card was shown to Aguero following a two-footed lunge on David Luiz, while in the very depths of the game as Chelsea pushed to take the tie to extra-time, City’s Kompany went unpunished for what looked like a tug on Torres’ shirt as the Spaniard raced away in the City penalty area.

The climactic end at the final whistle had the sky-blue half of Wembley in raptures as Mancini’s men held on for a fabulous cup win. City were dominant in the first half and for periods of the second they looked like they could score at will. Their inability to finish Chelsea off inevitably helped the Blues back in to the game, albeit all too late in the end. Benitez’s men deserve some credit for finding the energy to give it a go following a gruelling schedule of late, but they paid the price for a lacklustre first half display.

If you missed the game or simply want to relive the action – watch highlights from Chelsea 1-2 Man City

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