City blew their chance to secure the title early, Sergio Aguero’s botched Panenka allowing Chelsea to storm back in the second half
David Hytner was at the Etihad, where the title celebrations have been put on hold. Here’s his report. Click to enjoy ... and don’t forget Barry Glendenning is currently at the helm of the Liverpool-Southampton MBM. Thanks for reading this one!
Pep, simmering gently, talks to Sky. “We played really good. We miss our chance in the last minute of the first half with the penalty, and we were playing better. It was Aguero’s decision [to Panenka the penalty]. He decided to do it his way. Nothing to add. We were really good but at the end they scored.” As for the Zouma-Sterling incident? “It’s a penalty. It’s a penalty, that’s all. It’s a penalty, that’s all! That’s football, it happened. Try the next time to score our penalty. My opinion of the officials, they know it. Sometimes we make mistakes, maybe [the officials] believe they don’t make a mistake. What can I say? In 21 days we are going to face them again, we are going to try to learn from that, and now we try to win the three points we need to be champion.”
Thomas Tuchel speaks to Sky Sports. “What a performance in the second half. It was more or less an equal first half, but in the last five minutes we almost gave it away completely. If they scored a penalty it was over before it really starts. If it was 2-0 we would have had no chance to come back. But it was 1-0 and we had one injured player, and I am absolutely impressed by the reaction, we deserved to win the second half. You need a bit of luck, momentum and decisions for the referee, but we had many chances, so big congratulations to the team. In the second half we had better control and were more confident. It was a physical battle and we never stepped back. Timo Werner was working like a dog, really working hard, it was so important he gave them a hard time, he had them pretty exhausted so I have no complaints. We know well that this result will not change the final, but we arrive with the knowledge that we are capable of beating them. This will not change.” No word on the gravity of Andreas Christensen’s hamstring injury yet.
The more Sky replay Zouma’s challenge on Sterling, the more it looks like a penalty. Zouma makes contact three times from behind, admittedly gently, Sterling going down easily. But the City winger had the right to do so, and to expect to see the referee pointing at the spot. Here’s Sterling’s view! “It’s a difficult one to take. We had chances to finish the game off, we didn’t, and we got punished. For me, I couldn’t get a shot off because he’s put his knee on the back of my hamstring. I don’t know how it’s not a penalty, I don’t know how it’s not been reviewed properly. I knew it was a penalty. I thought VAR was here to help. The referee said to me it’s been checked and cleared, but for me it’s a sure penalty. We thought it was going to be the day we’d get over the line, but we didn’t take our chances.” He briefly flashes a knowing smile when asked whether Sergio Aguero had said anything to him about his goal. “Was he OK?! I was in the box, it was a bad first touch, it went in the back of the net, that was the most important thing.”
Raheem Sterling was quietly seething as he left the field of play. Did he mutter the words “effing embarrassing” there? He could have been referring to the referee’s unwillingness to award a late penalty for City, Zouma making contact from behind, or ... but let’s not riff on Sergio Aguero’s pain again. Either way, City trudged off glumly, while Chelsea cavorted in glee. Ostensibly, Chelsea will be celebrating the three points that consolidates their lead in the race for a top-four finish, though of course this victory carries a little more significance than that, given that City will think about very little else for the next three weeks.
Manchester City remain on 80 points, still three shy of winning the Premier League. Chelsea move up into third on 64, leapfrogging Leicester, who went down at home to Newcastle last night. A huge result in so many ways for Thomas Tuchel’s side, who have City’s number right now. What a boost that will give them for the Champions League final. City will still win the title, but a few seeds of doubt will have be planted ahead of the big showdown in Istanbul.
Chelsea put down a huge marker ahead of the Champions League final! They deny City the chance to secure the Premier League title today ... and nudge ever closer to the Champions League insurance policy that is a top-four finish!
90 min +3: That’s nothing more than Chelsea deserve for their second-half performance. It’s also no more than Sergio Aguero deserves, for his egregious Panenka penalty before half-time.
Chelsea work their way down the right yet again. Werner enters the box, reaches the byline and cuts back for Alonso, who opens his body up and shovels the ball into the top left!
90 min +1: Space for Hudson-Odoi down the right. He looks for Werner at the near post. Mendy snaffles. On the touchline, Pep has been remonstrating with the fourth official regarding the Sterling-Zouma penalty shout.
90 min: Pulisic, in full flight down the left, is brought crashing to ground by Jesus, who is booked. There will be three minutes for City to find the winner that would secure the title.
88 min: Alonso has a chance to chip goalwards from a tight angle on the left with Ederson on walkabout, but his effort is well off target.
87 min: Both teams are looking for the winner, a draw ideal for neither, the play going back and forth. Gundogan whiffs a shot. Werner can’t quite tear clear down the left. Zouma looks to have clanked into the back of Sterling, just inside the box. The referee isn’t interested. VAR has a look, but decides there’s no obvious enough contact to overturn the original decision. Knee did meet buttock, though.
85 min: Gundogan makes good down the left and clips a pass infield for Foden, at the left-hand corner of the six-yard box. Foden attempts a first-time flick across Mendy and towards the bottom right. Always heading wide, though it was a hellishly difficult chance.
84 min: City probe down both flanks, but can’t prise Chelsea open. Eventually Cancelo, coming in from the right, gets fed up and tries an ambitious curler towards the top left. Nope.
82 min: VAR double checks, and the original decision stands. City go up the other end, Sterling momentarily clear down the inside-right channel. He’s about to shoot when Zouma slides in to block. A perfectly timed tackle! Anything else would have been another penalty kick.
81 min: Chelsea have the ball in City’s net again! The ball’s worked wide right to James, who rolls another dangerous cross into the centre again. Hudson-Odoi slams home ... but the flag goes up for offside. VAR will double check.
79 min: Jorginho fires a pass down the middle for Werner, who races free, rounds Ederson, and rolls home. But once again, Werner has dozily wandered offside. There was no need for that. A huge hole in the middle of City’s defence there.
78 min: Jesus
, Mary and Joseph and the wee donkey
cuts in from the right and looks for the bottom left. Always going wide.
76 min: Ziyech is replaced by Hudson-Odoi. “Pep looks like the suspect who finally breaks under interrogation by the Line of Duty trio,” suggests
and Joseph and the wee donkey
74 min: Chelsea smell a little blood, you sense. Pulisic dribbles with great purpose down the middle, before laying off to Ziyech on the right. He looks for Werner at the far post. Werner somehow clears the ball rather than heading it goalwards.
73 min: James tears past Mendy down the right. He curls a tempting low cross through the six-yard box, but Werner, at full stretch, can’t quite connect. Anything on that, and he’d have bundled home.
71 min: City can’t do any better with the second take of the corner.
70 min: Another corner for City on the right. Before we find out whether they can do any better this time, City make a double sub. Foden replaces Torres, while Gundogan comes on as Aguero’s dignity-free evening comes to an end.
69 min: The City corner leads to a Chelsea counter, Ziyech embarking on a 60-yard dribble before sending Werner into space down the left. Cancelo comes across and blocks, Werner attempting to buy a free kick for obstruction, the referee not interested. City were horribly exposed for a minute there.
68 min: Laporte and Jesus combine down the right, forcing Alonso into sliding out for a corner. Before that can be taken, Jorginho comes on for Kante.
66 min: In the City dugout, Pep has his head in his hands, ranting to himself. He is fuming. Subs ahoy, I’ll be bound.
65 min: James dinks down the right for Kante, who finds more space on this flank. Kante pulls back for Gilmour, who chests down in the hope of replicating Ziyech’s goal ... but just as he prepares to shoot, a City toe pokes the ball away from harm. City are rocking here.
This had been coming, sort of. Rodri is stripped of possession by Azpilicueta, who one-twos with Pulisic. Space down the right. He thinks about crossing low for Werner, in the box, but instead pulls back fo Ziyech, who takes a touch and whistles a lovely low drive into the bottom right! Penny for the thoughts of Guardiola and Aguero right now.
61 min: Aguero and Pulisic take turns to go down dramatically under non-existent challenges. The referee shows no interest in acknowledging either of them.
60 min: Werner makes a nuisance of himself out on the left. The ball breaks back to James, whose shot isn’t up to much. City only half clear, and Chelsea come again. There’s a little bit of space and time for Pulisic on the edge of the D, but his attempt to curl into the top right is high and wide.
59 min: Chelsea pass and probe, but do little to pull the City defence out of shape. They’re seeing more of the ball in opposition territory, though.
57 min: A long pass down the City right, intended for Jesus, flies harmlessly out of play. There’s not much going on, to be honest.
55 min: Pulisic dribbles down the right and hopes to play in Werner, but the striker isn’t looking along the line. He’s clearly well offside, even though he keeps demanding the ball. Pulisic waits and waits for his team-mate to catch on, but eventually runs out of time and the chance is gone. That’s poor play from Werner, who would have been sent clear easily had he looked around and delayed his run.
53 min: Azpilicueta and Sterling tussle, the former’s hand slapping the latter’s face as he shepherds a ball out of play. It all looks accidental enough, and the Chelsea captain offers a hand of apology, but Sterling’s not convinced and doesn’t accept it. Views are exchanged.
51 min: A long City pass down the middle. Torres heads down into the path of Aguero, who meets the dropping ball, 25 yards out. As the world writes headlines of fairytale redemption, he sends an apologetic bobbler towards Mendy, who claims easily. It was probably harder to gather than the penalty, even so.
50 min: A little bit of space for Werner, sent clear by Alonso. He shoots from a tight angle, into the side netting. The flag goes up for offside.
49 min: Chelsea stroke it around the middle without much in the way of direction.
47 min: On the touchline, Pep still has the air of a man indulging in a turbo-seethe over Aguero’s scuffed Panenka, glaring out darkly towards the field of play. Probably best that sort of thing happens today and not in three weeks’ time.
City get the ball rolling for the second half. Aguero is still on, perhaps having been told he owes his team-mates one. Chelsea meanwhile have finally got Zouma onto the pitch in place of the stricken Christensen.
However, let’s keep everything in perspective, because despite that fiasco, City are still winning. They’re 45 minutes away from title number seven. News of any potential half-time punishment-substitutions soon!
That was a dismal couple of minutes for Sergio Aguero. The heavy touch that nearly cost the opening goal, then the botched Panenka ... and Sky have now shown footage of his berating Sterling for arriving on the scene to batter home the opening goal. He’s got some cheek, given how badly he miscontrolled the pass from Jesus with the goal gaping. As both Jamie Redknapp and Micah Richards point out on Sky, his team-mate got him out of jail with that one; Sterling should be receiving thanks, not a hot-faced lecture.
Aguero has plenty of moral credit in the bank when it comes to title-clinching matches for City, but he’s used a wee bit of it up there. I wouldn’t fancy being in his shoes when he gets to the dressing room, Guardiola having stormed down the tunnel in high dudgeon. Tuchel isn’t best pleased, either, having been unable to bring Zouma on when Christensen limped off. A largely uneventful half ends with a bang.
45 min +3: Aguero attempts a Panenka. Mendy doesn’t commit to a dive right, and is able to stand up again and catch casually. Oh dear. On the touchline, Pep is fuming.
45 min +2: One minute of injury time. As the clock ticks over, City enter the Chelsea box en masse. Gilmour crashes into the back of Jesus, and Chelsea have fallen apart here in double-quick time!
45 min: A double blow for Chelsea, who have lost Christensen to injury. He was feeling his hamstring.
A long ball down the right. Christensen should deal with it, but swishes fresh air, allowing Jesus to race into the box. Jesus, drawing Mendy, unselfishly rolls across to Aguero, who takes an uncharacteristically heavy touch in front of an unguarded net. The ball breaks left, the chance looks gone ... but in comes Sterling to bash home!
43 min: Gilmour injects some pace into a Chelsea ramble, pinging the ball forward for Ziyech, who strides into space and curls towards the top left. Ederson pushes clear at full stretch. Chelsea come again, Rudiger blazing over wildly. City then go up the other end, and ...
41 min: Since the half-hour mark, City have enjoyed 68 percent of possession. It’s fair to say they haven’t done much with it, but everyone seems content enough at the moment.
39 min: Sterling’s cute backheel releases Mendy down the left again. Mendy clumps an awful cross through the box and out for a throw on the other side. “This somehow still feels like it has 0-0 written all over it,” writes Grant Tennille. “Even with so much ostensibly at stake, the dominant vibe is more ‘two international heavyweights meeting in the early stages of a tournament qualification campaign’ than make-or-break, ‘sharp end of the season’ electricity.”
38 min: ... nothing. Nix. Bupkis. Nada.
37 min: A little space for Mendy down the left. He whips low and hard towards the near post, forcing Christensen to hoick behind for a corner. From which ...
35 min: Sterling skitters down the left wing at speed. He cuts infield and wonders where Aguero is. He overruns the ball a little, allowing Kante to make half a block. Sterling barges through the challenge and takes an instinctive shot from 25 yards. It’s heading into the bottom left, but not at any particular speed, and Mendy flops on it without drama.
33 min: Gilmour sends Werner scampering down the left. Werner reaches the edge fo the box and, using Ake as cover, tries to curl into the top right. It’s always heading wide and high, and it turns out he would have been offside earlier in the move anyway.
32 min: James, by the right-hand edge of the City D, drives low and hard. The ball’s going miles wide left, but Werner diverts it neatly into the top right with a flick of his boot. He doesn’t bother celebrating, though, as he knows he’s miles offside. The flag goes up.
30 min: Both teams are threatening to score an opener. Pulisic and Ziyech combine down the middle and nearly tee up Werner; then up the other end, Jesus has two goes at releasing Aguero down the middle, but can’t get his pass right on either occasion. Yep, intriguing rather than exciting.
28 min: Werner takes on Laporte down the left. Just as he’s about to skip past, Laporte steps on his toe. A large cry of pain. No free kick, though. Werner’s soon back up after a worrying 20-second period of rolling about. Any player who stays down between now and 29 May will have Chelsea and City fans’ hearts in mouths.
26 min: City stroke it around the middle of the park, without too much urgency.
24 min: Christensen’s miscue and Aguero’s industry leads to a City corner on the left. Torres whips to the near post. Alonso is forced to eyebrow out. Take two. Mendy claims the second one from the middle of a crowded six-yard box.
22 min: Another free kick out on the Chelsea right. They load the City box. Ziyech takes. Ake clears. This has been intriguing rather than exciting so far, which is better than nothing.
20 min: Both of these clubs have kept 31 clean sheets in all competitions this season. Next best is Manchester United with 24. So here we are.
18 min: Some space for Werner down the left. He teases Ake, pushing him back and further back, then rolls across for Gilmour. His strike is blocked the second it leaves his boot, Mendy doing the brave work.
17 min: Aguero spins in the middle of the park, finding space to launch an attack. Sterling and Jesus assist, the ball eventually laid off for Rodri, whose low drive deflects wide left for a corner. Nothing much happens at the set piece.
15 min: Chelsea are growing into this now. James is sent scampering down the right by Gilmour. His low cross is easy meat for Ederson. A poor delivery, given Werner and Pulisic were up with play.
14 min: The resulting free kick is useless.
13 min: VAR decides yellow will suffice. Sterling put studs on ankle there, and he didn’t look totally in control. He’s a lucky chap.
12 min: A little bit of possession in the midfield for Chelsea. Rudiger has the chance to release Werner down the inside left, but misplaces the pass. Cancelo intercepts. Then Chelsea come again. Werner is about to receive possession to the right of the D. Sterling slides in. Foul. Yellow. But is it more? VAR is going to check.
10 min: City look dangerous every time they move forward ... until they reach the final third. So far Chelsea have held their shape, and there’s no way through. A pattern may have been set.
8 min: Sterling and Jesus combine well down the inside-left channel, advancing at speed. The ball breaks left to Mendy, who hares in from the wing and hits a first-time drive across the face of goal and well wide right.
6 min: Chelsea haven’t seen much of the ball yet. They’re unlikely to be overly concerned. Their possession percentage against Real Madrid was somewhere in the 30s, if memory serves, yet they carved out a plethora of chances.
4 min: A simple long ball down the City right. Christensen misreads the bounce, allowing Torres to race off. Torres has Aguero in the middle, but opts for the sensational, looking for the top right from the edge of the box. An early chance spurned.
2 min: A long ball down the right evades Werner. Other than that, it’s been a nondescript start.
1 min: According to Gary Neville on Sky, City are playing 5-1-4.
The blues are out! City in sky, Chelsea in royal. We’ll be off in a couple of minutes!
Sky ask Thomas Tuchel if the Real Madrid game had a bearing on his selection tonight. “It was a huge effort, not only physically but mentally. We had one day less to recover, we had travel to do. You could see in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley what one day can do, we did not have to travel, they had after Dortmund, so we needed to do some changes. Also to prove we have trust in our whole squad, which is what we have. Game is on.”
Sky ask an extremely relaxed Pep Guardiola what he discussed with Thomas Tuchel when the pair met moments earlier. “He gave me the tactics for the final of the Champions League. Now I know it. Everything! No, we have a long relationship, when I was in Munich he was in Dortmund and Mainz, he’s a good guy. His is a tough side. Always. Game on!”
As is de rigueur these days, a large crowd gathered outside the Etihad to wish Manchester City well upon their arrival. Just as they did for the Champions League semi-final against PSG, hundreds of fans lined the street leading up to the ground, giving it plenty as the team bus drove past slowly. It was the usual heady mix of blue flares, fireworks, people spilling into the road, peelers keeping order, and not much in the way of social distancing. The title may be clinched tonight in an empty stadium, but the champions-elect know they’ve made their people happy.
Manchester City make nine changes to the XI sent out to beat PSG on Tuesday evening. Ederson and Ruben Dias are the only players to keep their places. Sergio Aguero is handed a start, nine years on from that title-clinching goal.
Chelsea are stable by comparison, making just five changes to the team named for the schooling of Real Madrid on Wednesday. Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, Billy Gilmour, Reece James and Marcos Alonso replace Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Jorginho, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell.
Manchester City: Ederson, Ake, Dias, Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Rodri, Mendy, Torres, Aguero, Sterling, Gabriel Jesus.
Subs: Walker, Gundogan, Zinchenko, Steffen, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, Mahrez, Foden, Garcia.
Chelsea: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Kante, James, Ziyech, Gilmour, Alonso, Pulisic, Werner.
Subs: Arrizabalaga, Jorginho, Abraham, Zouma, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Havertz, Emerson Palmieri, Livramento.
It’s a dress rehearsal for the Champions League final … and so much more. For a start, there’s the not insignificant fact that Manchester City can secure their seventh English league championship this evening. Three points tonight, and they’ll be uncatchable at the top of the Premier League table. How they’d love to get the job done and freewheel towards their date with destiny in Istanbul.
Chelsea won’t be in the mood to faff about either. They need a top-four finish, to guarantee Champions League football next season, whatever their fate in Turkey, and that’s yet to be secured. Defeat today would give West Ham,
and Liverpool the chance to make up some ground, with tricky fixtures against Arsenal, Leicester and Aston Villa to come, and that’s before considering the FA Cup final.
Mikel Arteta expects to be backed heavily by the Kroenke family in his efforts to reverse Arsenal’s slide and accepts significant changes to a floundering squad will be required over the summer.
Arsenal host West Brom on Sunday in what is virtually a dead rubber, with the sides having purely mathematical chances of qualifying for Europe and escaping relegation respectively. Thursday’s Europa League semi-final exit to Villarreal has put Arteta in a deeply uncomfortable position and only a handful of his core first-teamplayers seem assured of a place in his long-term plans.Continue reading...
Manchester United have missed out on a proposed new training kit deal worth £200m over 10 years after the Manchester-based company The Hut Group had concerns about the supporters’ campaign to boycott the club’s commercial partners in protest at the Glazers’ ownership, the Observer understands.
Richard Arnold, United’s group managing director, was told on Friday that THG had pulled out of a contract which was due to start on 1 July.Continue reading...