Don’t adjust your eyes the Champions League final does not take place for almost three weeks but the finalists of the 2021 edition did play each other over the weekend.
Chelsea came out as victors as they came back from a goal down to beat City 2-1 at the Etihad. Don’t be fooled to just brush off this match either just because it is inevitable that City will win the league this season. Arguably it is Chelsea who are the best side in England right now and they will want to extend that to the rest of Europe by the end of this month.
Manchester City’s 5th defeat of the season almost feels like it has been glossed over but this loss did feel important. Chelsea have been superb since Thomas Tuchel took over as manager from the sacked Frank Lampard at the end of January and the club have lost just 1 game in the Premier League since he took the job. Indeed Tuchel’s win rate is currently at 68% and he has won 17 games from the 25 coached so far.
As for the game City were installed as the favourites to win, being at home, wanting to lay down a marker before the Champions League final and of course a victory for City would mean the league title. All was going well until Sergio Aguero’s penalty….
Raheem Sterling opened the scoring on the 44th minute when he seemed to intercept an Aguero chance but took the ball himself and City were a goal up. It had been a dominant half from the home side and Chelsea had only managed 1 shot on target. In injury time of the first half it seemed that this game would be wrapped up when City were awarded what looked like a soft penalty.
Aguero put himself forward to take the penalty, here was the man who historically won City the league title with the final kick of the season a decade ago and could seal another with a penalty kick. However an over confident Aguero chose to use the method of the paneka and chipped the ball softly to the centre of the goal. When it comes off the striker looks super cool and the goalkeeper looks like a fool. When it doesn’t reverse that statement. Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who has been outstanding for the club this season simply stood his line and easily saved the spot kick. Aguero looked a tad embarrassed and the whistle went for half time. Chelsea should have been out of the game but were instead in with a chance of a comeback and that is what materialised.
This would be a game of two halves and in the 2nd half Chelsea showed all of their qualities and it is why City will be worried ahead of the Champions League final, because in that second period Chelsea were by far the better team.
The Blues equalised just after the hour mark through Hakim Ziyech. He shot from the edge of the area and found a sweet point to beat Ederson in goal and it was game on.
With 10 minutes to go Callum Hudson-Odoi thought he had put the visitors in the lead but his goal was rightly ruled out for offside. But Chelsea would get their winner.
Timo Werner set up the ball for Marcos Alonso in a clever move and Alonso’s beautiful shot wrapped up the game and Chelsea had won it.
For Chelsea they have been chasing a top four spot for the majority of the season but their fantastic form means they are in 3rd place now and will probably finish in that position. But there will be a lot of confidence within the squad when they face City again in a few weeks time for the grandest of all club prizes.
As for City they must wait for the title. It could be awarded to them tonight if Manchester United lose at home to Leicester or Liverpool in a couple of days time. Failing that City will play Newcastle United away from home at the weekend and they will be the favourites to win that match.
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