Advantage Mourinho as top two share the spoils: Chelsea 1 Manchester City 1

February 1, 2015 2:22 am

Champions failed to make
inroads into ’s five-point lead as the Premier League’s top two
shared an absorbing 1-1 draw.
continued his
tempestuous relationship with the media by shunning a
pre-match interview with Sky – apparently angered by both
a £25,000 fine for comments about referees and Diego Costa’s
retrospective ban for a stamp on Emre Can during the League Cup
semi-final second leg this week.

That indiscretion earned the
Spain striker a three-match suspension, but the man to benefit from
Costa’s absence – recalled striker Loic Remy – took centre stage at
Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
He gave the hosts a 41st-minute
lead, before a rare mistake from Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois
allowed David Silva to equalise in the final minute of the first half.
Although Manuel Pellegrini’s team controlled much of the second period, their winless league run extended to three matches.
City
overhauled deficits in late runs to the Premier League crown in 2012
and 2014, and a similar effort may now be required, as Mourinho’s men
remain in the driving seat with 15 games remaining.
Aside from
Costa’s absence, Ramires came into the Chelsea midfield as Cesc Fabregas
missed out with hamstring injury, while Bacary Sagna was a surprise
inclusion at right-back ahead of Pablo Zabaleta for Manchester City.
The
visitors started sharply, as Courtois beat away a stinging shot from
Jesus Navas inside the first 20 seconds and Fernandinho had a low,
angled drive deflected wide.
James Milner was alert to disposes
Chelsea right-back Branislav Ivanovic in the 24th minute and play the
ball into Sergio Aguero, but Kurt Zouma forced City’s top scorer to
shoot from an acute angle and Courtois saved comfortably.
Courtois’
opposite number, Joe Hart, made his first save of the match from an
Oscar effort after an error by Vincent Kompany let Remy escape down the
left flank.
John Terry then joined fellow captain Kompany in
having an error go unpunished – Aguero pulling a shot wastefully wide
after the former England man had missed his kick from a 32nd-minute punt
down field.
That was a chance the Argentina striker would regret
10 minutes later, as Eden Hazard brilliantly steered Ivanovic’s
flighted pass back across goal for Remy to convert.
City’s
response was immediate, as Courtois fumbled a searching Navas cross,
Aguero smashed the loose ball back towards goal and Silva prodded home.
Frank
Lampard enjoyed warm applause on his return to Stamford Bridge
while warming up with the City substitutes, as his colleagues on the
field enjoyed an encouraging start the second half.
Silva and
Navas combined on the right flank for Fernandinho to plant a header into
the turf – Courtois turning the bouncing ball over.
Milner then
looped a headed attempt onto the roof of the net, the impressive Navas
again supplying the ammunition, and City’s control increased as
Chelsea’s midweek League Cup exertions began to tell.
Lampard finally made a 76th-minute introduction as City attempted a late assault.
However,
with Mourinho increasingly animated on the touchline, his
side displayed steely resilience in keeping with their manager’s siege
mentality, as they closed out what could prove a vital point in the
title race.

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