EPL

Rodri rescues a point for Manchester City against Chelsea

By Sports Desk February 17, 2024

Rodri struck a late equaliser as champions Manchester City were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in a compelling Premier League clash with Chelsea.

Raheem Sterling stunned his former club when he fired the visitors into the lead just before half-time in a fiercely-contested encounter at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening.

Yet City, needing to respond to the victories of title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal earlier the day, fought back and created a succession of chances before Rodri finally found the net after 83 minutes.

His powerful effort was greeted with much relief around the stadium including, presumably, by team-mate Erling Haaland after a glaring miss.

There was still time for further drama with a stoppage-time penalty check for handball against Levi Colwill but nothing was given.

Despite City’s rescue act, the result nevertheless ended their 11-game winning run in all competitions and left Pep Guardiola’s side third in the table, four points off the top.

Despite heavy rain, City started brightly with Julian Alvarez twice threatening but Chelsea also looked dangerous and Conor Gallagher opened up the home defence before misplacing his pass.

Haaland headed hit first chance of the night wide before Sterling let City off the hook when he shot tamely at Ederson after beating Manuel Akanji.

Chelsea went close again when Gallagher picked out another ex-City man in Cole Palmer in the box but Nathan Ake denied him with a fine challenge.

The visitors squandered a better chance when Malo Gusto raced onto a Palmer ball and sent Nicolas Jackson through on goal but a poor touch allowed Ederson to claim at his feet.

It seemed Chelsea might have been made to pay for those misses as Jeremy Doku created an opportunity but he fired straight at Djordje Petrovic.

The Londoners finally made a chance count three minutes before the interval as Palmer released Jackson with a simple ball and he picked out Sterling in front of goal.

The former City forward still had much to do as Kyle Walker closed in but he wrong-footed the full-back with a cut-back and then curled confidently past Ederson.

His celebration was muted but he had done enough to prod City into life and Haaland should have scored as Chelsea struggled to clear a corner but headed over.

The hosts began the second period strongly as Kevin De Bruyne shot narrowly over from a free-kick and Haaland volleyed wide following a quick counter-attack.

Walker also wanted a penalty after tangling with Sterling but referee Andrew Madley awarded a foul in the opposite direction.

Chelsea seemed certain to double their lead when Gusto swept in a superb ball for Sterling to meet with a powerful first-time shot but Ederson saved brilliantly with his foot at point-blank range.

City stepped up the pressure with Foden and Haaland both having shots blocked before Rodri blasted over.

Haaland forced a good save from Petrovic and then wasted a glorious chance when he headed over from six yards from a pinpoint De Bruyne cross.

Chelsea’s resistance was eventually broken seven minutes from time when a Walker shot rebounded into the path of Rodri and the Champions League final match-winner thundered in an equaliser with the aid of a deflection.

The closing stages were frantic but Chelsea held on despite a nervy moment when VAR checked for handball against Colwill.

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