Essien Keeps Blues In Hunt  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 1 Manchester City 0

Michael Essien

Chelsea kept their title dreams alive on Sunday with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Manchester City.

A solitary strike from Michael Essien, on his first Premier League start since regaining full fitness, proved to be enough to secure the points and keep Guus Hiddink's unbeaten record intact.

On a glorious afternoon in West London it took less than two minutes for the hosts to find the back of net.

Frank Lampard's early effort was chalked off by a linesman's flag, but it offered an early warning to City.

Mark Hughes' men failed to learn their lesson, though, with Nicolas Anelka and Ricardo Carvalho going close before Essien forced the breakthrough on 17 minutes.

The Ghanaian midfielder was left wide open on the edge of the box and, after being spotted by a Lampard free-kick, looped the ball over the stranded Shay Given in spectacular style.

Felipe Caicedo did scuff a good opportunity narrowly wide on a rare occasion City threatened, but Petr Cech remained untested at the break.

Chelsea began the second half much the brighter and were unfortunate not to build on their lead.

Didier Drogba was proving to be a constant menace and was only stopped from keeping his fine scoring run going by some fantastic defending from Nedum Onuoha and an impressive reflex stop by Given.

City did pose more of an attacking threat as the game wore on, but it was Hiddink's side who came closest to forcing a second.

Anelka drilled into the side-netting after bursting into the box and substitute Florent Malouda saw a low drive hacked off the line by Richard Dunne as the clock ticked down.


City were lucky to remain on level terms in the opening two minutes when Lampard's goal was ruled out for offside.

The England midfielder flicked the ball beyond Given from six yards but his effort was disallowed by referee Mike Riley.

City had plenty of early possession but despite their intricate approach play, there was little penetration.

In the 13th minute Carvalho rose highest in the City penalty area to meet a corner from Lampard but the Portugal international sent his glancing header wide of the target.

But Chelsea went ahead through Essien's second goal in as many games in the 17th minute.

City's Stephen Ireland brought down Anelka midway in his own half and Lampard made the most of the free-kick by passing the ball to Essien on the edge of the penalty area.

The Ghanaian international, starting only his second game since damaging knee ligaments on international duty last September, hit a first time shot beyond the flatfooted Given to put the Blues in front.

City were being outfought as well as outplayed and their frustration was evident as referee Riley had to speak to Elano and Michael Ballack after the pair clashed off the ball.

Elano's feud with Ballack erupted again in the 29th minute when the City midfielder upended the Germany international.


Riley quickly showed the City player a yellow card and advised him to calm down.

Essien tried his luck again on the half hour but this time he screwed his low drive wide of Given's left hand upright.

A minute later Chelsea felt they should have had a penalty when Anelka appeared to be brought down by Onuoha but Riley ignored their appeals.

Chelsea should have added a second when they carved City open in the 36th minute.

A fabulous move, started by Lampard's ball to Drogba, was almost brought to a successful conclusion by the Ivorian's clever back-heel into the path of Ballack.

But the German midfielder curled his effort around the post with Given well beaten.

It was all Chelsea now and another classy move three minutes later saw Lampard cross for Drogba to head over.

At the other end Robinho's cross-shot had to be cleared from danger at the far post by relieved Chelsea right-back Jose Bosingwa.

Drogba should have made it two for Chelsea in the 47th minute but he dwelled too long on a pass from Essien and Onuoha and Dunne crowded him out.


Moments later Chelsea's top scorer, Anelka, sent a 20-yard shot on the turn just wide of Given's right upright.

Chelsea were rampant now and in the 51st minute a fine pass by Bosingwa enabled Drogba to test Given with a fierce right-foot drive which the City keeper did well to keep out at his near post.

Two minutes later Essien collected a short pass from Lampard and ran towards the City goal before unleashing a low 20-yard drive that flashed wide of the target.

But in the 62nd minute the woodwork prevented Chelsea from increasing their lead.

Substitute Belletti played a neat interchange of passes with Essien before watching his 20-yard shot rebound off Given's left hand upright.

Moments later City replaced Elano with Kelvin Etuhu and the substitute soon flashed an angled drive across the face of the Chelsea goal.

Worryingly for Chelsea, Drogba was clearly suffering from a knock and was replaced by Florent Malouda in the 69th minute.

Chelsea continued to press for a second but the loudest chants were reserved for Robinho when the Brazilian was substituted by City.

Captain Terry headed a Lampard corner over the bar and Dunne cleared a Malouda effort off the line as Chelsea continued to dominate in the closing stages.


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Manchester City





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Chelsea  Cech, Bosingwa, A. Cole, Carvalho, Terry, Ballack, Lampard, Essien, Drogba (Malouda 71), Anelka, Deco (Belletti 41)
Subs Not Used  Hilario, Alex, Mikel, Quaresma, Kalou
Goals  Essien 18

Manchester City  Given, Richards, Dunne, Onuoha, Bridge, Zabaleta, Robinho (Bojinov 81), Elano (Etuhu 66), Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Caicedo (Evans 54)
Subs Not Used Hart, Garrido, Fernandes, Berti
Booked  Elano, Evans

Attendance 41,810

Referee M. Riley 

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