All Too Easy As Chelsea Stroll Past City  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 5 Manchester City 0

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Hasselbaink: Chelsea opener
Chelsea 5-0 Man City
Hasselbaink 37
Terry 43
Stanic 58
Lampard 69
Gallas 79 
Premiership, Saturday, March 22

Ben Sullivan reports

Manchester City's fragile defence wilted in front of Chelsea's robust attacking for the second time this season as the Londoners boosted their Champions League bid with a 5-0 stroll in the sunshine.

Claudio Ranieri's side won 3-0 at Maine Road in October and were in the mood to continue in similar vein. City were in no mood to deny them.

Peter Schmeichel's rage had long since burnt itself out when Mario Stanic volleyed home Chelsea's third, the veteran keeper limiting himself to a rueful shake of the head.

By the time Carlton Cole set up Frank Lampard for the simplest of goals moments later, the Dane failed to even muster a dive. Why bother? the men in front of him had failed to muster a challenge.

Chelsea started the game slowly, almost languidly. They expected to win at a canter so why leave the stalls at anything more than a trot?

That more than anything explained why City were in the contest for so long, although Schmeichel was still forced into a couple of decent saves to deny Eidur Gudjohnsen and Gianfranco Zola.

To be fair to City's defenders, their attackers were no better. Nicolas Anelka was having one of his disinterested days and Robbie Fowler was simply desperate. The fact that Kevin Keegan finally swallowed his pride after so many poor performances from the 6million man to drag him off at half time said it all.

Chelsea were slow to shake off their torpor and it was no surprise that Gianfranco Zola was the man to provide the wake-up call. His sumptuous dinked cross set up Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to volley past Schmeichel from close range at the far post. Cue red-faced fury.

Schmeichel should have saved his anger. Worse - far, far worse - was to come.

The City keeper pulled off a typically sharp save to push Zola's shot wide just before the break and was entitled to expect some protection at the corner. Some chance. John Terry rose unmarked six yards out to bury a header through Schmeichel's legs.

City had a golden opportunity to get back into the game moments after the restart. Anelka's clever cushioned header from Sylvain Distin's cross set up Jensen for the best chance of the match six yards out. He sliced his shot well wide.

Goater then failed to create a shooting chance from Ali Benarbia's pass, getting the ball tangled up beneath his feet before he was smothered by the Chelsea defence.

City were threatening a fightback without any real conviction and Stanic's goal just before the hour mark put an end to their bluster.

Again it came from a set-piece, Hasselbaink's corner flicked on by Terry for the Croatian to volley in at the far post.

Now it was simply a question of how many? To City's considerable relief, it was just two more.

Lampard was in acres of space when Carlton Cole slipped the ball through to him and he slid the ball past the by-now bemused City keeper and William Gallas flicked the ball over Schmeichel when the Dane came charging out of his goal - clearly by now he'd given up on his defence making a contribution.

The final insult came when Sun Jihai was sent off in injury time for a second bookable offence - two late tackles, the second on Lampard.

'Bring on the Arsenal' the Chelsea fans roared. I bet they'd rather play the City every week.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Stanic, Melchiot, Terry, Gallas, Le Saux (Zenden 55), Lampard, Morris, Zola (De Lucas 65), Hasselbaink (Cole 62), Gudjohnsen.
Subs Not Used: de Goey, Desailly.
Booked: Terry.

Man City: Schmeichel, Wright-Phillips (Jihai 63), Wiekens, Distin, Sommeil, Jensen, Horlock (Belmadi 57), Foe, Benarbia, Fowler (Goater 45), Anelka.
Subs Not Used: Nash, Dunne.
Sent Off: Jihai (90).
Booked: Benarbia, Jihai.

Att: 41,105
Ref: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

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