Man City 1-1 Chelsea: Rodri denies Blues shock win but title charge slowed

Relief: Rodri’s late strike ensured that Manchester City did not fall to a rare home loss against Chelsea (REUTERS)
Relief: Rodri’s late strike ensured that Manchester City did not fall to a rare home loss against Chelsea (REUTERS)

Chelsea were denied a shock win away at Manchester City courtesy of Rodri’s late equaliser in a pulsating Premier League contest.

The Spanish midfielder thundered in a deflected strike off Trevoh Chalobah seven minutes from time on Saturday night to cancel out Raheem Sterling’s stylish counter-attacking opener struck before half-time that looked to have Mauricio Pochettino’s resurgent side on course for a first win over City since the 2021 Champions League final in Porto.

The battling draw leaves City - who still have a game in hand - in third place in the table with their ominous run of consecutive wins across all competitions halted at 11, two points behind Arsenal and four adrift of leaders Liverpool after their title rivals both racked up big wins over Burnley and Brentford respectively earlier in the day.

It is the second time that Chelsea have hit Pep Guardiola’s title bid this season, with ex-City star Cole Palmer having notched a last-gasp penalty in a dramatic 4-4 draw between the two sides at Stamford Bridge back in November.

It was another impressive display from the Blues after they eased the pressure on Pochettino over recent weeks with back-to-back 3-1 wins over Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, though they got a little fortunate with the unusually profligate Erling Haaland wasting numerous strong chances to pull out another City victory.

The reigning Golden Boot winner had nine efforts in total on the night without scoring, with three key opportunities in particular that he would normally be expected to bury.

At the other end, Ederson was also counted on to make a succession of fine stops to deny Nicolas Jackson, Sterling and Ben Chilwell.

Nonetheless, despite the late heartbreak, it was another pleasing step on Chelsea’s swift recovery from a woeful run of form that reached its nadir with a shocking 4-2 home defeat by Wolves at the start of the month and a clear sign that they can compete with the best teams in the country ahead of next weekend’s Carabao Cup final showdown with Liverpool at Wembley.

City, meanwhile, will hope to put a rare frustrating display by their usual sky-high standards behind them quickly and get back to winning ways with another home game coming up against Brentford on Tuesday night.

Rodri’s seventh goal of the season did at least preserve that long home unbeaten run that now stands at 34 matches at fortress Etihad, where City - who had late penalty appeals turned down following an alleged handball against Levi Colwill - have still not lost since December 2022.