City beaten as Blues move second

BY foxsports • March 16, 2009

Chelsea took full advantage Manchester United's slip against Liverpool as they beat Manchester City 1-0 to move up to second in the table. The Blues are now just four points behind United after Michael Essien's first-half goal enabled Guus Hiddink's side to overcome a disappointing City side at Stamford Bridge. It was Chelsea's fourth straight league win under Hiddink and they remain unbeaten since the Dutch coach agreed to take charge of the side until the summer. Although United also have a game in hand on the Blues, Chelsea ensured they kept up the pressure on the leaders with a typically combative victory that moved them ahead of Liverpool on goal difference. City were lucky to remain on level terms in the opening minute when Frank Lampard's goal was ruled out for offside. The England midfielder flicked the ball beyond Shay Given from six yards but his effort was disallowed by referee Mike Riley. City had plenty of early possession but despite their intricate approach play, there was little penetration. In the 13th minute Ricardo Carvalho rose highest in the City penalty area to meet a corner from Lampard but the Portugal international sent his glancing header wide of the target. But Chelsea went ahead through Essien's second goal in as many games in the 17th minute. City's Stephen Ireland brought down Nicolas Anelka midway in his own half and Lampard made the most of the free-kick by passing the ball to Essien on the edge of the penalty area. The Ghanaian international, starting only his second game since damaging knee ligaments on international duty last September, hit a first time shot beyond the flatfooted Given to put the Blues in front. The goal followed his midweek strike against Juventus in their Champions League victory in Turin. Robinho, who joined City instead of Chelsea last summer, was given a hard time by the home fans whenever the opportunity arose. City were being outfought as well as outplayed and their frustration was evident as referee Riley had to speak to Elano and Michael Ballack after the pair clashed off the ball. Elano's feud with Ballack erupted again in the 29th minute when the City midfielder upended the Germany international. Riley quickly showed the City player a yellow card and advised him to calm down. Essien tried his luck again on the half hour but this time he screwed his low drive wide of Given's left hand upright. A minute later Chelsea felt they should have had a penalty when Anelka appeared to be brought down by Nedum Onuoha but Riley ignored their appeals. Chelsea should have added a second when they carved City open in the 36th minute. A fabulous move, started by Lampard's ball to Didier Drogba, was almost brought to a successful conclusion by the Ivorian's clever back-heel into the path of Ballack. But the German midfielder curled his effort around the post with Given well beaten. It was all Chelsea now and another classy move three minutes late saw Lampard cross for Drogba to head over. At the other end Robinho's cross-shot had to be cleared from danger at the far post by relieved Chelsea right-back Jose Bosingwa. Deco, clearly still struggling with his long-running hamstring problem, was replaced by Juliano Belletti in the 40th minute. Drogba should have made it two for Chelsea in the 47th minute but he dwelled too long on a pass from Essien and Onuoha and Richard Dunne crowded him out. Moments later Chelsea's top scorer, Anelka, sent a 20-yard shot on the turn just wide of Given's right upright. Chelsea were rampant now and in the 51st minute a fine pass by Bosingwa enabled Drogba to test Given with a fierce right-foot drive which the City keeper did well to keep out at his near post. Two minutes later Essien collected a short pass from Lampard and ran towards the City goal before unleashing a low 20-yard drive that flashed wide of the target. But in the 62nd minute the woodwork prevented Chelsea from increasing their lead. Substitute Belletti played a neat interchange of passes with Essien before watching his 20-yard shot rebound off Given's left hand upright. Moments later City replaced Elano with Kelvin Etuhu and the substitute soon flashed an angled drive across the face of the Chelsea goal. Worringly for Chelsea, Drogba was clearly suffering from a knock and was replaced by Florent Malouda in the 69th minute. Chelsea continued to press for a second but the loudest chants were reserved for Robinho when the Brazilian was substituted by City. Chants of 'What a waste of money' rang out as he was replaced by Valeri Bojinov. Captain Terry headed a Lampard corner over the bar and Dunne cleared a Malouda effort off the line as Chelsea continued to dominate in the closing stages.

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