[HIGHLIGHTS] Chelsea 2-0 Man City: Brazilian boys leave it late to keep the heat on title rivals

By on March 21, 2011

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Chelsea kept their faint title ambitions alive yesterday with a solid 2-0 victory over fellow Champions League pretenders Manchester City, leap-frogging them into third in the process.  Two goals inside the last 10 minutes from Brazilians David Luiz and Ramires proved to be enough to brush aside a disinterested Man City at Stamford Bridge; a side who were deprived of anything in the way of attack by a well organised Chelsea XI.

David Luiz carried on his excellent run of form since signing from the club in January.  He won the free-kick from which he then scored the opening goal; a glancing header that City ‘keeper Joe Hart could do nothing about.  His international compatriot Ramires sealed the victory in stoppage time with a cool finish typical of his countrymen.  The victory lifts the Blues ahead of Roberto Mancini’s super-stars, nine points behind league leaders Man Utd with a game in hand, whilst City themselves hover just four points ahead of Champions League quarter finalist’s Tottenham Hotspur.  Who said this league was over?

The much hyped up block-buster billing got off to a rather subdued start with both teams trying to feel out their opponents for areas of weakness.  Yaya Toure found a patch of space outside the Chelsea box in the first 5 minutes and unleashed a powerful effort that was more or less straight at ‘keeper Petr Cech.  In response Salomon Kalou who was favoured over both Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, looked to be through on goal for a one-on-one with Hart after a swift passage of play.  However the Ivorian was comically impeded by his own team mate, Ramires who had tripped himself and caused Kalou to similarly tumble to the ground.  Kalou could only turn a weary smile upon his team mate, knowing he had just missed out on a golden goal-scoring opportunity.

The play leading up to the fiasco however, was good and Chelsea began to find their feet in a so far disappointing game.  Frank Lampard found space after the ball was played in field but his left foot did not possess the sting of his right and his effort sailed harmlessly wide of Hart’s goal.  Soon after Florent Malouda fired into the side netting and Ashley Cole decided to try his luck from long-distance.  The England full-back’s 25-yard effort summed up a mid-half spell of frustration and desperation as a brief moment of promise came to a dull end.  Fernando Torres also cut a frustrated figure, finding his path to goal blocked on a number of occasions by a solid City back-four.

Things looked like they might change when Kalou found space to turn in the City area, but the best chance of the half yielded no reward as his hooked effort found the gloves of ‘keeper Hart.  The interval appeared give Chelsea new cause for optimism as they unleashed an onslaught upon the City rear-guard.  Kalou immediately forced a corner which failed to cause any damage, but soon after a rapid and pin-point passage of play put winger Malouda in a favourable position to slot home from close range.  The Frenchman however couldn’t make a substantial connection and Hart gathered his tame attempt.

Luiz, who was bossing the games proceedings at the back and comfortably quelling any City threat, needed to block an Edin Dzeko strike that could have trouble Cech.  The Brazilian defender was as composed on the ball as he was strong in the tackle and City struggled to carry any kind of attacking impetus.  Their only noteworthy chance of the half came from the head of Dzeko after doing well to out-muscle his marker, however his backwards flicked header lacked the necessary direction and power to beat Cech.

With about 20 minutes remaining, Carlo Ancelotti decided to put Torres out of his misery, subbing Britain’s most expensive signing for Didier Drogba.  Nicolas Anelka also entered the action in place of countryman Malouda as Chelsea sensed victory.  After such a poor City showing, anything but a win in this fixture come full-time would feel like a loss.  Mancini’s men were there for the taking.

And it did not take long for Drogba to make a significant contribution, although all the credit will be deservedly dished out to Luiz who initially won the free-kick with a samba-style piece of skill.  Having drawn the foul, the Brazilian took his place in the penalty area and met Drogba’s cross with a well-placed header that Hart could not keep out.  Whilst Luiz’s celebrations may have looked somewhat dramatic, you get the feeling that the January signing from Benfica has settled well and is a favourite not only with the players, but with the Stamford Bridge faithful too.  He was ecstatic to get on the score sheet and his jubilation hinted that there may be a belief in the Chelsea dressing room that something can in fact be salvaged from this campaign.

With the clock ticking down, Chelsea just needed to ensure that they kept things tight at the back, lest they concede a disappointing equaliser.  More than that, they ensured the points were safe by doing what good teams do: scoring a second.  The game was in the dying embers of injury time when Ramires was put through on goal by an inch perfect Essien pass.  The touch to get it out of his feet was great, but the delicate yet assured manner in which Ramires stroked the ball past Hart was delicious.

Chelsea had their win, and what an important win it could prove to be come the end of the season.  Both managers will be well aware of the importance that beating the teams around you carries, so Ancelotti will be delighted to have moved ahead of his countryman Mancini in what was in the end, a comfortable home win.  The Blues must now keep their focus on the next game and the next game only.  There may only be nine games to go, but there’s still a long way to the end of the season; and anything can happen.

Watch highlights of Chelsea 2-0 Man City

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