12 August 2012 17:10
Manchester City produced a brilliant second-half display to beat 10-man Chelsea 3-2 in the Community Shield at Villa Park.
Roberto Mancini may believe Manchester United are favourites to win the league this season, but his City side were in fine form on Sunday, and dominated this feisty match despite falling behind to Fernando Torres’ 40th-minute strike.
Yaya Toure, Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri struck three superb goals after the break as City took advantage of space in the Chelsea defence created by Branislav Ivanovic’s 42nd-minute dismissal for a studs-up challenge on Aleksandar Kolarov.
Ryan Bertrand grabbed a late goal back for Chelsea but City held on comfortably to complete a successful day following the news that they had agreed a fee with Everton to sign Jack Rodwell.
There was certainly nothing charitable about the traditional season curtain-raiser as fierce challenges flew in with almost the same ferocity as the rain pounding down in the west Midlands.
Nigel de Jong set the tone with a lunging foul on Frank Lampard, while City defender Stefan Savic was booked as he took out his frustration on Eden Hazard’s ankle.
Thousands of supporters arrived late due to traffic on the M6, but they missed little action of note in the early stages as the champions of England and Europe cancelled each other out in a congested midfield.
In the third minute, Tevez forced the first save of note from Petr Cech with a free-kick from the corner of the penalty area that curled over the wall but lacked the power to beat the Chelsea goalkeeper at his near post.
City looked rather uncomfortable defensively in the 3-5-2 formation deployed by Mancini but began to take control of proceedings, as Nasri came close but saw his effort from a tight angle smothered by Cech.
Hazard, the only off-season signing to start the match for either side, showed glimpses of his quality, taking the ball under pressure and using his skill to manoeuvre past the City defenders.
The 32-million-pound addition from Belgium is certainly confident in his own ability – but his first game on English soil is likely to be remembered for the moment in the first-half when he fell flat on his face when attempting a backheel.
On 28 minutes, it was Hazard who drifted inside and fizzed a low shot towards the bottom corner of Costel Pantilimon’s goal, the first shot in anger from a Chelsea player.
Against the run of play, however, the Blues took the lead in the 40th minute, with Torres making a clear statement of his intent for the new season after winning the Golden Boot at Euro 2012.
Ramires did all of the hard work for the Spaniard, taking the ball on the edge of the penalty area and executing a neat reverse pass. Torres’ finish was masterful, a perfect first touch with his right foot and a deadly clipped finish with his left from eight yards.
Yet Chelsea’s celebrations were short-lived as Roberto Di Matteo’s side found themselves reduced to 10 men less than two minutes later as Ivanovic was sent-off. The Serbian’s lunge on Kolarov was dangerous, reckless and completely unnecessary and the full-back will now be suspended for three matches.
The extra man told as City dominated from the whistle after the re-start and drew level eight minutes into the second-half. Toure, always the man for the occasion, collected a poor clearance from John Terry and swept the ball low into the corner from 20 yards.
In the 58th minute, City took the lead when Tevez collected the ball on the left of the Chelsea box, before smashing a missile into the top corner.
Nasri added the finishing touch with a first-time volley on his left foot to turn in Kolarov’s cross following a sweeping move.
Chelsea substitute Bertrand grabbed a goal back for the Londoners in the 78th minute as he turned in a rebound from close range when Pantilimon made a mess of his attempt to save Daniel Sturridge’s shot.