STAMFORD BRIDGE, LONDON the honours shared between Chelsea and Manchester City, with eight goals scored between the two sides in a thrilling encounter which saw momentum shift back and forth constantly.
After the 4-1 win over Tottenham last time out, Chelsea once again showed that we could go toe-to-toe with the best teams in the Premier League and succeed. Although there was no win at the final whistle this time around, it was a brilliant display of attacking football and determination from the Blues.
It was Manchester City who opened the scoring from the penalty spot, but just over 10 minutes later it was Chelsea who were in the lead, after Thiago Silva had headed in Conor Gallagher’s corner and Raheem Sterling scored from close range against his former club.
City levelled from a corner of their own, via Manuel Akanji, shortly before half-time, but there was even more to follow after the break. We suffered an early setback when Erling Haaland bundled across the line for his second goal of the game. That was the way it remained for quite a while, before Nicolas Jackson reacted quickest in the box from a rebound to level again.
Just as it looked like that was all the excitement for the day, we were supplied with even more twists late on. When Rodri’s shot was deflected past Robert Sanchez it looked like we were set for a very harsh defeat, but then Armando Broja was brought down in the box, allowing another ex-City player Cole Palmer to equalise from the penalty spot, leaving honours even at the end of a breathless 90 minutes.
Before kick-off, Stamford Bridge paid its respects on Remembrance Sunday. The stadium fell silent for the playing of the Last Post as those who have lost their lives in conflict around the world were remembered.
The teams had been led on to the pitch by the distinctive red uniforms of Chelsea Pensioners from the nearby Royal Hospital, with ‘CHELSEA REMEMBERS’ spelt out on the pitch, and both teams wore the Poppy on their shirts.
When the whistle blew to start the match, Chelsea made a bright start against our top-of-the-table opposition, with a slick move starting from Robert Sanchez and flowing down the left with Conor Gallagher and Raheem Sterling, ending with Reece James charging into the box on the right and getting the game’s first shot away inside the first minute, but it was charged down.
Despite the undoubted quality of the visitors to the Bridge, the first 10 minutes saw some of the best passing football Chelsea have played this season, Nicolas Jackson twice threatening to break free of the City defensive line. Cole Palmer was then nearly gifted an opportunity by his former team-mates, when a risky backward header by Rodri nearly played him in, but Ederson was able to rush off his line and claim in the air. Meanwhile, a Rodri header from a corner at the other end forced Sanchez into action for the first time.
It was combinations in wide areas which were giving us the most joy, with Gallagher and Sterling on the left, and James and Palmer on the right, as another switch from flank to flank ended with Gallagher stinging the palms of Ederson from the edge of the box. City had plenty of the ball, but it was the Blues who were looking the most threatening.
Mauricio Pochettino will have been pleased with the way his team had started the game, but the first twist arrived midway through the first half, and not in our favour. Chelsea already had three players down injured from a couple of clashes in the build-up, but when the City cross came in from our right and Thiago Silva headed clear, referee Anthony Taylor judged Marc Cucurella to have pulled Erling Haaland back in the box and award the away side a penalty. Haaland stepped up and sent Sanchez the wrong way to give City the lead.
The Blues attempted to hit straight back and were mightily close with a James free-kick to the left of the box, Ederson at full stretch to tip it over the bar as it curled towards the top-right corner of the net. We were not to be denied for a second time, though.
From the resulting corner, Gallagher sent in an outswinging delivery. Thiago Silva’s brilliant run from deep took him across the defenders at the front post to meet it first and glance a header across goal and under the dive of Ederson. We were level again less than five minutes after falling behind.
In another five, we were in the lead ourselves. Enzo did brilliantly the win possession high up the pitch and free Palmer to launch the quick attack. His pass evaded Josko Gvardiol to find James on the right side of the box, and when Raheem delivered a low ball across goal Sterling arrived to finish from close range.
Level at the break
There was no question the momentum was now with the Blues, as Sterling, Jackson and Enzo each went close to finding openings to extend our advantage further. However, there had been warnings that our lead was insecure, Haaland forcing a strong save down low from Sanchez and Foden curling inches wide.
In the end, we could not hold on to our lead until half-time, as Man City found an equaliser of their own in first-half stoppage time, from a set-piece routine. Following a short corner, a cross was delivered from their left into the box, where Manuel Akanji had got free to send a powerful header into the top corner, giving Sanchez no chance.
It wasn’t the start to the second half we were hoping for, either, as it was only two minutes after the break that Man City took the lead for the second time in the game. It was a very similar goal to our own second, with a quick break getting Foden into the box on the right, and Haaland sliding the square pass across the line.
Sanchez then had to show good hands to hold an Alvarez volley from inside the box as Man City continued to start the second half well, during a difficult period for the Blues. We did start to find our feet in the game, and Palmer did brilliantly when going close to scoring against his former club. He surged past three defenders with his direct run into the box, but goalkeeper Ederson was out quick to save low.
Not done yet
The twists weren’t finished in this thrilling match at the Bridge. Not by a long way. Midway through the second half the stadium was ringing to the celebrations of a sixth goal, and it was the home fans making the noise.
Following on from his hat-trick at Tottenham, Jackson got his name on the scoresheet again. A nice move down the left ended with Gallagher testing Ederson from the edge of the box. When the keeper could only palm it back into danger, Jackson and Palmer were both queueing up to have a go, but it was the Senegal striker who took a composed touch and guided the ball past Ederson to make it 3-3.
Now it was Chelsea on the front foot again and City who were looking vulnerable at the back. After a few promising openings, the chance fell to substitute Malo Gusto when Sterling played him in, but he couldn’t keep his left-footed shot down.
Final twist, or two
There was no respite as the rain began to fall heavily in the closing stages of the game. However, for all the quality on display in this thrilling match, it was nearly decided late on by a huge slice of luck. Rodri’s speculative effort from outside the box looked to be heading towards Sanchez, but a big deflection off Thiago Silva’s toe took took it away from our goalkeeper and gave City the lead with four minutes remaining of the 90.
That was still enough time for us to hit back yet again, though, to leave the points shared from a thrilling match. Armando Broja, only on the pitch for minutes, twisted and turned in the box, drawing a wild challenge and ultimately a clear penalty. Palmer stepped up to the spot and made no mistake against his old team-mate Ederson, sending his kick into the top-left corner to secure a point in injury time.
What is next
There is no Chelsea game next week due to the international break, before we return with an away trip to Newcastle United in the Premier League on Saturday 25 November, with kick-off at 3pm.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Sanchez; James (c) (Gusto 64), Disasi, Thiago Silva, Cucurella; Enzo (Mudryk 64), Caicedo (Broja 89), Gallagher; Palmer, Jackson (Ugochukwu 90+6), Sterling
Unused subs: Petrovic, Badiashile, Maatsen, Matos, Madueke
Scorers: Thiago Silva 29, Sterling 37, Jackson 67, Palmer 90+5
Booked: Cucurella 23, Palmer 24, Caicedo 60, Jackson 90+4, Sterling 90+7
Man City (3-4-2-1): Ederson; Walker (c), Dias, Gvardiol; Foden, Rodri, Akanji, Doku (Grealish 59); Alvarez (Kovacic 79), Silva; Haaland
Unused subs: Ortega, Carson, Lewis, Nunes, Phillips, Bobb
Scorers: Haaland 25, 47, Akanji 45+1, Rodri 86
Booked: Doku 56, Rodri 72, Grealish 90+4