Friday, 24 May 2013

Manchester City 4 Chelsea 3: Rafa's Blues let three-goal lead slip in St Louis special



In an interview published in England this morning, Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano said that his club will move in to the future playing attractive football and winning football.

 In America’s mid-west, they managed both in a thrilling friendly fixture as they came from three down to grab a hugely entertaining victory at the St Louis Cardinals’ splendid Busch Stadium.

To say that City – coached by Brian Kidd in the wake of Roberto Mancini’s sacking – were the better team here would be an understatement. They played some terrific football in front of 48,263 people, especially in the opening half, and created a dozen good chances over the course of the 90 minutes.

Head boy: Manchester City's Micah Richards completed a remarkable turnaround against Chelsea

With 27 minutes left, City were still trailing by three but two strikes in a minute midway from Javi Garcia and Edin Dzeko breathed fresh life in to their challenge and they eventually earned a remarkable win thanks to an equaliser from their big Bosnian striker with five minutes left and a winner from defender Micah Richards right at the death.The recently deposed Barclays Premier League champions had lost that winning habit in recent times, though, and somehow found themselves three goals behind inside an hour as Chelsea struck through Demba Ba, Cesar Azpilicueta and the Brazilian Oscar.

By the end, Chelsea – still coached by interim manager Rafael Benitez – looked rather shell-shocked and it would have been easy to overlook the fact that this was just a post-season friendly.
Close encounter: Demba Ba headed Chelsea into a first-half lead
Cruising: Chelsea stormed into the lead
Spot on: Cesar Azpilicueta put the Blues 2-0 up from the penalty spot late in the first half
... and the game seemed won when Oscar rounded Richard Wright to make it 3-0 to Chelsea
Nevertheless they do have a rematch at New York’s Yankee Stadium on Saturday and we can only hope it is as absorbing as this.

The first half 15 minutes of the game in front of a good crowd saw City dominate. Sergio Aguero had the ball in the net in the third minute after a Carlos Tevez pass but he was ruled offside. Then the same player was foiled by Petr Cech after a cushioned header from Gael Clichy at the far post set him up.

This was, as it transpired, to be the story of Aguero’s evening. The South American was full of running but had no luck. In the 14th minute, for example, he was played in cleverly by David Silva but Cech was sharp once again to save with his foot at the near post.

At this stage, Chelsea had barely ventured outside of their own half. Out of nothing, though, they scored.
Battlestations: The game was played in a competitive spirit, with established stars happy to stick the boot in


Juan Mata’s cross was as hopeful as anything the talented Spaniard will ever hit but Joe Hart’s rush from the City goal smacked of a goalkeeper who wasn’t really concentrating and, when he got nowhere near the ball, Demba Ba headed Chelsea in to the lead.

It was a dreadful goal to concede and Hart was right to look sheepish. City’s response, meanwhile, was positive but still they couldn’t score as Aguero struck a post from distance, Yaya Toure was denied superbly by Cech and then Aguero – who else? – spurned two more chances.

With the crowd thoroughly entertained, City kept pressing but, peculiarly, it was Chelsea who went in at half-time two goals to the good. Mata seemed to go down rather easily under the challenge of young City defender Karim Rekik but a penalty was awarded and full-back Azpilicueta scored low to Hart’s left.

Both teams made a number of changes at half-time and Chelsea looked to have wrapped up the game when substitute Oscar rounded City reserve ‘keeper Richard Wright to score in to an empty net in the 54th minute.


Fighting back: Richards congratulates Edin Dzeko, the scorer of City's second and third goals
Comeback completed: Micah Richards' goal was City's fourth and the one that decided the result
Garcia – who had such a disappointing first season at City - was first to pull a goal back with an instinctive shot from 12 yards in the 63rd minute. Chelsea goalkeeper Jamal Blackman had only just come on and the first thing he did was retrieve the ball from the back of his net.

Then, less than 60 seconds later, Dzeko ran on to a superb ball from James Milner to score City’s second and leave them chasing what transpired to be an unlikely win.

Certainly there were chances as young Blackman saved well from Milner at the far post and then from Dzeko. City’s Bosnian striker also headed another opportunity over the bar from a corner.

Just as it looked as though time would run out on them, however, Dzeko was played in by the excellent Tevez to score first time across Blackman with five minutes left and then, in the 90th minute, Richards appeared unmarked to volley in after Garcia had headed down a cross.

Up in the stands chief executive Soriano will have approved.


Thanks: Players were appreciative of the crowd, and will hope for more of the same in New York.


  1. Chelsea will always dance to mancity's music.. Great match tho

  2. For Azpiculetta to tke a penalty.. twas a friendli match indeed

  3. whats benitez still doin der