First Premier League club to file for bankruptcy protection looks set for relegation.
|Bridge makes his point, and City claim three points to move up to fourth spot [AFP]|
All eyes were on a handshake that never happened, as Manchester City punished English Premier League leaders Chelsea with a costly 4-2 home defeat.
The drama kicked off as City defender Wayne Bridge, a former Chelsea player, refused to shake the hand of Blues captain John Terry in the customary pre-match greeting ritual between the two teams, following allegations that Terry had an affair with Bridge’s former girlfriend.
After making that point, Bridge then helped City collect three points by creating Tevez’s first goal as both Craig Bellamy and Tevez struck twice to secure the win.
Chelsea missed their chance to extend a one-point lead over defending champions Manchester United with only 10 matches to go and lost at home for the first time in all competitions since November 2008, ending their 37-match unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard scored a second for Chelsea from a penalty as the match moved into stoppage time but it was not enough to stop a jubilant City moving back in contention for the Champions League fourth spot.
Chelsea ended their miserable day with nine men after Julian Belletti and Michael Ballack both saw red.
Two last minute goals moved Arsenal to within three points of Chelsea when they beat Stoke 3-1 at home.
City have a three-point lead over Tottenham and are an extra point ahead of Liverpool, with the trio having all played 27 matches. Chelsea remain top with 61 points from 28 matches, one more point more than United, who play Aston Villa in the League Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. Arsenal have 58 points.
By completing their first league double over Chelsea since 1957, the result relieved the pressure on manager Roberto Mancini, who had won just four of his last 11 games before prevailing in west London.
|Tevez scores past Terry and Carvalho [AFP]
“Today was a big, big result for us because we have come away from the last month, we haven’t been playing particularly well,” Bellamy said.
“It showed in the first half when we got going with the counterattack with Carlos up there, especially on his own, which was difficult.
“I thought we got closer to him in the second half and we’ve got players that can score goals.”
All the pre-match focus had been on the rift between Bridge and Terry. They came face to face for the first time since allegations surfaced about the affair.
For Bridge, ensuring City finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League became the priority after the left back announced his international retirement on Thursday, saying his position in the England team was “untenable.”
Faced by a City side that showed precious little attacking intent during the opening 45 minutes, Ancelotti’s side were allowed to dominate possession yet uncharacteristically lacked conviction inside their opponent’s box.
Chelsea finally conjured a move of quality that led to the home side taking a 42nd minute lead.
Joe Cole found space in midfield and placed a weighted pass into the path of Lampard’s diagonal run which the England midfielder hit with a first time shot that flew low across City keeper Shay Given and inside the far post.
Tevez ensured City were level at the break, by turning Terry then scuffing a shot that managed to beat goalkeeper Henrique Hilario and clinch City’s first goal at Chelsea since 2000.
Six minutes into the second half, Bellamy broke from the halfway line and managed to score under Hilario, who was filing in for the injured Petr Cech, from a tight angle.
The Chelsea keeper was again unconvincing and on the evidence of this performance, Cech’s four-week absence with a calf problem could feel like a very long time to Ancelotti.
Belletti was sent out for fouling Gareth Barry and Tevez netted the resulting spot kick in the 76th minute.
|Results & fixtures|
Saturday February 27
Sunday February 28
Liverpool v Blackburn
Ballack was next to go after receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Tevez.
And with huge holes in the Chelsea defence as the home side pushed for a goal, Bellamy tapped in City’s fourth at the far post after Shaun Wright-Phillips squared to the Welshman.
Lampard struck his second in the last minute after Barry had brought down Nicolas Anelka in the area.
Arsenal’s title ambitions remain alive after a 3-1 win at Stoke.
Stoke had taken the lead courtesy of Danny Pugh’s first Premier League goal early in the first half before Nicklas Bendtner headed an equaliser.
Cesc Fabregas put Arsenal ahead from the penalty spot in the 90th minute when Pugh handled inside his area before Thomas Vermaelen wrapped up the points with the third goal.
Bottom club Portsmouth, who went into administration on Friday and will be deducted nine points by the Premier League next week to virtually consign them to relegation, won 2-1 at Burnley, who stay second from bottom.
Bolton Wanderers, without a goal in their previous five Premier League games, climbed out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, now clear of the bottom three only on goal difference.
Hull City, who did not play, slipped into the relegation zone in 18th place.
Birmingham City also left 16th-place Wigan Athletic in trouble at the wrong end of the table after beating them 1-0.