Chelsea kicked off a pressure-free game that meant absolutely nothing tonight, and it looked that way for much of the first half. Chelsea was fairly lackluster in both attack and defense, and Manchester City dominated possession while staying in the Chelsea end for the bulk of the first 45. A Demba Ba headed goal and a Cesar Azpilicueta penalty had Chelsea leading 2-0 at the break though, even if they were only a lesser keeper away from trailing this one by a handful.
The start of the second half brought wholesale changes, with Demba Ba, Juan Mata, Cesar Azpilicueta, Branislav Ivanovic, and Gary Cahill coming off. Fernando Torres, David Luiz, Oscar, Ramires, and Paulo Ferreira came on in their places without a change in formation.
It wouldn't be long before Chelsea made it 3-0, as Oscar pounced on a loose ball, rounded the keeper, and tapped it calmly into the corner of the net. Marko Marin and Jamal Blackman came on at the hour mark, with Petr Cech and Yossi Benayoun making way. Some terrible defending from a set piece led to a ball getting behind Blackman just seconds later, and it was 3-1 good guys.
Two minutes later, City broke on the counter after a Chelsea chance by Ruben Loftus-Cheek was wasted. Edin Dzeko snuck in behind the 17-year old Christensen, and Jamal Blackman was caught in no man's land. That made it 3-2 Chelsea, with about 25 minutes left to play.
Chesea finally started to build into the contest, and at the 80 minute mark Nathan Ake came on for Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The Blues were made to pay for some yet another turnover in the midfield though, as Edin Dzeko leveled the tie in the 84th minute of play. Micah Richards got on the end of a headed ball from Dzeko just minutes later, and just like that City were rightfully ahead.
I'm not going to bother with community ratings for either of these games, as frankly I just don't really care all that much. This one was meant to be entertaining, and it most certainly was. Here are a few thoughts though, as there were at least a few things to take away from this game:
- The Juan Mata cross to set up the first goal was absolutely sublime. Every single game he does something that makes me say wow, even if the game doesn't mean anything.
- How good is Petr Cech? The number of teams that Thibaut Courtois wouldn't walk into the starting lineup of can probably be counted on one hand, and Chelsea are certainly on that list. He was at his superhuman best tonight.
- Paulo Ferreira is a good looking man. Carlos Tevez is not.
- Andreas Christensen had some shaky moments, but for the most part he looked very good this evening. He had some excellent tackles and interceptions, and his excellent step up early on drew a big offside that took a goal off the board.
- Ruben Loftus-Cheek also impressed, especially when Chelsea were in transition. He didn't look physically out of place at all, and he did a nice job of getting the ball to the wings. He looked raw, but not out of place at all.
- I hate to make snap judgments about players, but this Yossi Benayoun character just isn't going to cut it in blue. How long until his contract is up again?
- After looking at the crowd in St. Louis this evening, I don't think there is any doubt which of these two clubs has done a better job of marketing themselves in the United States. This was essentially a home game for the Blues.
- I need a vacation as badly as the Chelsea players do. This has been a very long roller coaster of a season.