Chelsea welcomed the Premier League champions Manchester City to Stamford Bridge for a crucial fixture in the Premier League. This game was significant to both sides for different reasons.
The Citizens have put up a disappointing defence of their Premier League crown this season as they find themselves 23 points behind Liverpool. This game represented another opportunity for them to make a statement after their thumping victory over Arsenal a few days ago. On the other hand, the Pensioners are fighting to finish in the top four to qualify for Champions League next season.
This game was a tough test for Frank Lampard's side credentials as they look to stave off competition from the sides below them. A win or draw for Chelsea would also mean that Liverpool being confirmed as the Premier League champions.
The visitors dominantly started the game. They looked the better side as they kept possession but struggled to create any clear chance on goal. Meanwhile, the hosts were content to sit back and absorb the pressure from the away side. The Blues looked dangerous on the break and were rewarded for their hard work with a goal. Christian Pulisic took advantage of a mix-up between Benjamin Mendy and İlkay Gündoğan to run past them with the ball and produced an excellent finish to open the scoring. They saw off the remaining minutes comfortably and went into half-time with the lead intact.
The second-half started in the same vein as the first one. The Citizens continued to apply pressure as they searched for the equalizer. They finally got the goal in the 55th minute of the game. Riyad Mahrez was fouled by N'Golo Kanté, and Kevin De Bruyne scored a great goal from the resulting free-kick.
The visitors looked more likely to score the match-winning goal after scoring the equalizer, but the tide turned in favour of the hosts again in the 75th minute.
Fernandinho handled the ball while stopping a shot on goal which resulted in a penalty-kick for Chelsea and the Brazilian getting a red card for the same. Willian converted from the spot to put the Blues ahead. This goal proved to be the match-winning goal as the hosts successfully defended their lead against the defending champions.
The result meant that Liverpool were crowned champions of England for the first time in 30 years. As for Chelsea, the result ensures their lead of 5 points over Manchester United as they continue to push for a spot in Champions League next season. On that note, let us look at the hits and flops from the game.
#5 Hit: Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne was one of the shining lights for Manchester City on an otherwise disappointing outing. The Belgian was at the centre of everything good the visitors did against his former side.
The midfielder looked dangerous throughout the game. He was pulling the strings and showed why he is regarded as one of the best players in the world. The ex-Chelsea player brought his side back into the game single-handedly when he hit a perfect free-kick to level the scores.
The Belgian's influence waned after the Citizens went down to 10 men. However, it was a brilliant performance from him. Pep Guardiola will hope that his star man can carry this form into the Champions League campaign as they look to win their first European title.
#4 Flop: Raheem Sterling
Manchester City began the game without any recognized striker in their starting eleven as Sergio Agüero missed out due to injury. This meant that the goalscoring burden fell on the shoulders of Raheem Sterling.
The winger has been in rich goalscoring form throughout the season; however, he struggled to pose any threat in this game. Even though City dominated the possession, the Englishman could not get any clear shot on target. His night was summed up by the moment when he beat Kepa Arrizabalaga only to hit the post with his shot.
The ex-Liverpool player had to play the last 15 minutes of the game as a right-back after Fernandinho received a red-card. The Citizens will look to put this result behind them and concentrate on their Champions League campaign now, and Sterling will have a huge role to play for them.
#3 Hit: Andreas Christensen
This was always going to be a game in which Manchester City were expected to dominate the possession and Chelsea trying to hit them on the counter. For the hosts, their chances of getting anything from this game depended on their defence rising up to the occasion.
Andreas Christensen produced a brilliant display at the heart of the Blues defence. He has been criticized for lacking concentration in crucial moments of the game, but he was pretty much flawless throughout the 90 minutes in this game.
The defender looked comfortable against the visitor's tricky forwards. He looked solid and was the best defender for the hosts this evening. The centre-back kept his composure in critical moments and handled Gabriel Jesus very well in the second half.
The Denmark international also came close to scoring in the first-half when Ederson stopped his headed shot towards the goal. Frank Lampard will hope that Christensen can build on this performance in the coming weeks as he will likely play a vital role for the Blues in these last few games of the season.
#2 Flop: Fernandinho
Pep Guardiola started Fernandinho in defence for Manchester City as a centre-back. He was always going to be the weak-link which Chelsea would try to target.
The Brazilian looked out of sorts every time the hosts came forward with the ball. He was put out of his misery in the 75th minute of the game. The Citizens were in the ascendancy after scoring the equalizer, however, the centre-back was found guilty of handling the ball to stop a goal which turned the game on its head. He received a red-card and Willian scored from the penalty kick.
The red-card meant that all the momentum the visitors had gained was lost. The ex-Shakhtar Donetsk player has been an outstanding servant for Manchester City, but he was guilty of letting his team down in this game.
#1 Hit: Christian Pulisic
Christian Pulisic was Chelsea's saviour in their last game against Aston Villa, and he proved to be their hero again in the victory against Manchester City.
The winger displayed all of his qualities this evening. He looked dangerous throughout the game as he carried the ball forward for the hosts and took on City's defenders.
The American was rewarded for his efforts when he took advantage of a mix-up between Benjamin Mendy and İlkay Gündoğan to score a brilliant goal in the first half. This was his 7th goal in the Premier League this season. The ex-Dortmund player came close to scoring a second goal, but Kyle Walker's goal-line clearance denied him.
Pulisic has endured an injury-laden first season at Chelsea. However, he showed today why Chelsea invested a considerable amount in him. The blues will hope the winger's injury issues are behind him now and he carries this goalscoring form till the end of the season.
Published 26 Jun 2020, 04:30 IST