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Rodri strike salvages Man City point against Chelsea

Rodri’s late leveller earned Manchester City a 1-1 draw against Chelsea but the reigning champions lost ground in the Premier League title race.

Raheem Sterling’s breakaway goal against his former club had given Mauricio Pochettino’s men a deserved lead at the interval and Chelsea had chances to extend their advantage. Erling Haaland spurned a series of opportunities to equalise as City pushed.

But Pep Guardiola’s team did find one of the goals they needed with Rodri’s left-footed effort deflecting off Trevor Chalobah and into the net. They pushed for the winner, sparking a series of melees in the Chelsea box, but had to settle for the draw in a thrilling game.

Pochettino’s team warranted it with their endeavour, the draw lifting them back above Wolves and into the top half of the table. City may rue the dropped points more. They are now third, four points behind the Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Player ratings

Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (7), Akanji (6), Dias (6), Ake (7), Rodri (8), De Bruyne (7), Foden (7), Alvarez (6), Doku (6), Haaland (6).

Subs used: Silva (6)

Chelsea: Petrovic (7), Gusto (8), Disasi (8), Colwill (8), Chilwell (7), Fernandez (7), Caicedo (6), Gallagher (7), Sterling (7), Palmer (7), Jackson (7).

Subs used: Nkunku (6), Casadei (6), Chalobah (6).

Player of the match: Axel Disasi.

How the game unfolded

This fixture had finished 4-4 earlier in the season at Stamford Bridge and while the crowd was not quite treated to a repeat, it was always entertaining with opportunities at both ends. Chelsea, in improved form, showed that they can compete with the best.

Haaland had been criticised by Guardiola for his poor body language in the first half against Everton last weekend. He came close to making a quicker impact this time around. His headed chance from Julian Alvarez’s left-wing cross was directed over the bar.

Team news headlines

  • Pep Guardiola named perhaps the strongest Manchester City side available given that Bernardo Silva was only fit enough to make the bench. Jack Grealish and Josko Gvardiol missed out as expected through injury.
  • Raheem Sterling replaced Noni Madueke in the Chelsea team as one of two changes to the side that beat Crystal Palace. Levi Colwill came in for the injured Thiago Silva, as he did in the second half at Selhurst Park.

But it was Chelsea who had the better openings in the first half, looking a real threat on the counter-attack. They were able to play through the pressure and should have taken the lead before they did. Only Nicolas Jackson’s poor touch allowed Ederson to smother.

Jackson made up for that for Sterling’s goal, however. After finding space himself on the right, his measured cross found the former City player who cut inside before curling the ball past Ederson and into the far corner. It was a deserved lead at the break.

Big wins for Liverpool and Arsenal earlier in the afternoon had put the spotlight on City in what looks like a three-team title race. Could they respond? Kevin De Bruyne curled a free-kick over. Haaland sliced a volley wide after being set up by Phil Foden.

Chelsea retained that counter-attacking threat, however. Cole Palmer, who left City early in the season, fed Malo Gusto and his cross was almost swept in by Sterling only for Ederson to produce a magnificent save with his feet. It proved to be a crucial stop.

After Haaland had improbably headed wide again, the ever impressive Rodri intervened. His shot was bound for the back of the net before the deflection. It salvaged one point. But with Liverpool and Arsenal in good form, will they regret not taking two more here?

Rodri celebrates after equalising for Man City against Chelsea
Image: Rodri celebrates after equalising for Man City against Chelsea

What’s next?

Man City play again in the Premier League on Tuesday as they host Brentford; kick-off 7.30pm. They return to Sky Sports next Saturday as they travel to Bournemouth on Saturday Night Football; kick-off 5.30pm.

Saturday 24th February 5:00pm Kick off 5:30pm

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It is another huge game for Chelsea next weekend as they take on Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday February 25, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 3pm.

Sunday 25th February 2:20pm Kick off 3:00pm

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