A stoppage time fluke by Marcos Alonso earned Chelsea a comeback win at the Etihad following strikes from Raheem Sterling and Hakim Ziyech, with Sergio Aguero missing a Panenka penalty at 1-0 as City’s title celebrations were put on hold.
It was a shocking decision from Aguero, not least when he would have equalled the record for Premier League goals for a single club, and that is without considering the potential title win or even the psychological boost this result could hand the London outfit.
Chelsea were worthy of the draw in truth, but defeat was harsh on the would-be champions.
In an extremely unremarkable first half, a terrible mistake from Andreas Christensen gifted City a 44th minute opener, as he missed a long ball to set Gabriel Jesus in on Edouard Mendy. Jesus cleverly cutback to Aguero, with the striker fluffing his control but allowing Raheem Sterling to pass into the unguarded net.
Long range strikes by Hakim Ziyech and Sterling had, until that point, been the clearest ‘chances’ of the half.
The game had barely restarted when Jesus was upended by Billy Gilmour in the box, with Anthony Taylor instantly awarding the spotkick.
Personally, Jesus seemed to initiate the contact, but the decision stood and Aguero had the chance of his 183rd Premier League goal.
He tried the Panenka. Mendy noticed the change in the run-up, stayed central, and patted the ball down like it was a warmup drill.
If it is 3-0 after 80 minutes, if there is nothing on the line, you can understand. But in such a crucial moment, personally and for the club, it was sheer stupidity.
The penalty taker is expected to score a penalty. If the keeper pulls off a good save then sometimes you can accept that. But taking a shot where if you score it is expected, but a miss gets you annihilated by players, pundits, and press, has never made sense to me.
For goodness sake. Just smack it in a corner.
Half time: Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea
The second half was a more interesting affair, mainly because there was the occasional shot. It does help, in fairness.
Timo Werner was having a personal competition to see how many times he could be offside in one match- around seven was his attempt today- and he showed he can score twice in a game, providing he is three yards offside each time.
Even so, there was little danger to either keeper until Rodri needlessly lost the ball in the 63rd minute to Christian Pulisic.
Pep went bananas in his technical area, realising the danger.
As it turned out, his anger was justified, as the ball was worked well between Ziyech and Cesar Azpilicueta before the Moroccan hammered the ball in off the post from just inside the box.
Unaware is the kindest description for Rodri’s mistake. Moronic is more apt.
Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden came on following the goal, with both having half chances to give the home side the lead once more. Gundogan’s first touch saw him hammer narrowly over, before another volleyed chance was well blocked, while Foden flicked just wide of the far post with Mendy nowhere.
Fellow substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi found the net from an offside position, while Ederson also made a smart save to deny the winger following yet more abysmal play by Benjamin Mendy.
If he is not moved on the summer- given away if necessary- then City fans everywhere will continue having that feeling of dread every time he is actually given a start.
Marcos Alonso’s chip was just about batted away by Ederson following miscommunication in the City back line, before yet another controversial VAR moment.
It was the 89th minute, with a good long ball seeing Sterling the wrong side of Kurt Zouma and in on goal. Zouma, from behind, clipped the winger three times to bring him down, in what was a blatant penalty.
Anthony Taylor? No, he had already given City one penalty. Cannot be seen giving them any more.
As is always the case with City at the Etihad, VAR once again decided that the decision was correct. Even though one replay showed it very clearly.. was not.
The excellent example of Man United being given a penalty for a Martial dive- thanks to VAR- and Foden not getting one after Alex McCarthy flattened him the following week is a recurring theme when it comes to City and VAR penalty reviews.
They are not even debatable. They are blatant. The continuous inability of the muppets watching in Stockley Park to make the correct decision following 50 replays from 20 cameras is why so many people hate the technology.
It is irrelevant how good your machinery is if it is operated by an idiot.
It seemed almost fitting that Chelsea ran down the other end to score, with Werner being allowed to pull the ball back towards the penalty spot by Aymeric Laporte. Alonso sliced it with his right foot, onto his left foot, and then over the helpless Ederson.
How much of a mental impact will this result have on the 29th of May? Wait three weeks to find out.
Full time: Manchester City 1-2 Chelsea
Man of the Match: Hakim Ziyech
In truth, there were a lot of bang average or even poor performers on the pitch from both sides. Ziyech was one of the few who actually played positively and used the ball well, with his goal the reward for a lively performance.