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After kicking off his pre-match press conference by dropping the F-word, Roberto Mancini began his post-match address by paying tribute to the outgoing Pope.
Life is certainly interesting with the Italian in charge at Manchester City and that is one reason to hope he escapes the axe this summer.
As much as this win will help City to finish ahead of Chelsea in second place, it is unlikely to make any difference in the Barclays Premier League title race. For that, the deeply religious Mancini still looks as though he will need divine intervention.
Booked: Zabaleta, Kolo Toure, Rodwell
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Mikel (Torres 81), Lampard (Oscar 67), Ramires (Moses 67) Mata, Hazard, Ba.
Subs not used: Turnbull, Oscar, Terry, Azpilicueta, Bertrand.
Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)
Even that eventuality would seem unlikely to save Rafael Benitez, however. Defeat at the Etihad Stadium means the Spaniard has gained one more point than predecessor Roberto Di Matteo when he was sacked in November, but his team have played three games more.
Although salvation may yet be at hand in the Europa League and FA Cup, it would be a major surprise if the ‘interim’ prefix in his job title is not replaced by the word ‘ex’ this summer.
Benitez’s side deserved what they got here, going down to second-half goals from Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez. They only managed two shots on goal and one of those was Frank Lampard’s penalty seven minutes after half-time, brilliantly saved by Joe Hart. Whether the England goalkeeper should still have been on the pitch is another matter.
He brought down Demba Ba when the Chelsea striker outpaced a flailing Kolo Toure to reach Branislav Ivanovic’s long punt forward just in time to knock it past the keeper.
Referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot but did not even produce a yellow card.
But Hart second guessed his England colleague and was already diving to his right when Lampard drove the ball low towards the corner. There was nothing wrong with the shot but Hart got a hand to the ball and turned it away at full stretch. ‘A crucial moment in the game,’ admitted Benitez.
It was also the perfect riposte from Hart after Mancini had threatened to drop his goalkeeper if he continues to make mistakes. The City boss was still not completely satisfied, however, criticising Toure and Hart for conceding a penalty in the first place.
Mancini took issue with some of his players at the weekend for only giving ’50 per cent’ but he could have no complaints here.
Apart from a brief spell before half time, they were largely dominant only to come up against a resolute Chelsea defence led by Gary Cahill. He produced two magnificent blocks to thwart James Milner and Sergio Aguero and also headed clear from Pablo Zabaleta’s volley.
Chelsea were opened up on two occasions when Aguero went clear on goal, but he knocked the ball too far past Petr Cech and on the second occasion dinked it on to the roof of the Chelsea net.
The impressive Jack Rodwell, who played for nearly an hour on his first start since September, also tested the Chelsea keeper with a swerving effort from 25 yards.
Cech was finally beaten in the 63rd minute after David Silva played the ball to Yaya Toure on the edge of the area. John Mikel Obi and Lampard seemed to have the Ivorian covered but Toure swept round them both with ridiculous ease before seeing his right-foot shot take a nick off Cahill’s boot as it curled inside the far post.
Rodwell’s replacement, Tevez, made sure of victory with a fantastic strike in the 85th minute when Chelsea failed to get the ball from Aguero, following his run down the left, and Silva fed Tevez on the edge of the box.
Again there were two defenders in attendance but neither Cahill nor Ivanovic closed down the Argentine, who scarcely needed any backlift to smash the ball between them and beyond a despairing Cech for his first league goal in nine games.
The result could prove crucial in securing second place for City, leaving Chelsea to battle for the other automatic Champions League spot. Whether that scenario will be enough to save Mancini or Benitez remains to be seen.