Frank Lampard denied former club Chelsea a victory over Manchester City with a late equaliser in an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium.
Jose Mourinho's men looked set to repeat the 1-0 Barclays Premier League victory they earned at City last season after Pablo Zabaleta was sent off and Andre Schurrle netted from a brilliant counter-attack. But substitute Lampard ensured the points were shared between the two title contenders as he netted late on.
Lampard, who scored 208 goals in 626 matches for Chelsea before departing in July, had his name sung by the visiting fans after his introduction for Aleksandar Kolarov late in the second half. Those tributes were soon replaced by silence, however, as the 36-year-old, who is on loan at the Etihad Stadium from New York City, grabbed an equaliser for the 10-man hosts. The goal ended Chelsea's 100% start to the league season, and Mourinho will rue the missed opportunity to have gone eight points clear of one of their rivals for the title.
Manuel Pellegrini took the surprise step of handing Eliaquim Mangala his debut in place of Martin Demichelis as one of four changes from Wednesday's defeat by Bayern Munich. Diego Costa's hamstrings held up enough for him to lead Chelsea's line, bumping Didier Drogba back to the bench after their UEFA Champions League draw with Schalke.
The Spain striker's first contribution to the contest was a full-blooded battle with Vincent Kompany in which he came off second best after Yaya Toure had forced the first save of the game out of Thibaut Courtois.
Although Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic's influence in midfield for Chelsea increased, the visitors were unable to stem the flow of City attacks and were fortunate to see Fernandinho fail to connect properly with Kolarov's cut-back as well as Sergio Aguero half-volley an Edin Dzeko knockdown over the crossbar. Neither side could find a breakthrough before half-time, despite Aguero and Costa getting brief glimpses at goal just prior to the break.
City picked up where they left off following the restart. Aguero tested Courtois early on with a left-footed shot from the edge of the box moments before just failing to control a cross into the box. The Argentinian again was at the heart of things when his snapshot forced another Courtois save as Ramires was on hand to clear the rebound with Dzeko lurking.
City's hopes of making the most of the ascendancy received a significant blow with just over an hour gone, as Zabaleta received a red card after a clip of Costa's heels brought a second yellow card. That forced Pellegrini into a reshuffle, with Dzeko making way for Bacary Sagna but the addition of another defender could not prevent Chelsea taking the lead. The visitors broke incisively from an opposition corner before Costa played Eden Hazard into space on the right and the Belgian sent in a delightful low cross that Schurrle turned in at the back post.
Costa thumped a post from distance but the hosts responded to rescue an unlikely point as Lampard, Chelsea's record goalscorer, turned home James Milner's smartly volleyed cross from the left. Lampard refused to celebrate, but then almost secured a winner. Nevertheless, Chelsea's fine early progress was checked for the first time.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: "When I sent Lampard on I told him to go and score. I was so sure he'd play well against Chelsea because he's a very good professional and he always wanted to be involved in this game from the beginning. I spoke with him at the beginning of the week and he wanted to be involved, he's a very good player and a great professional so I am very happy for him."
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: "[It's] one point won because we arrive here as leaders with two points more than second [place] and we leave the stadium with three points lead. I don't look to direct opponents, to City, or to other clubs in a special way, I look to the table. We are leaders with three points. We come to a super difficult stadium and a super difficult opponent and we leave in a better condition than when we arrived."
|03 Dec 2014||v Sunderland (A)|
|27 Sep 2014||v Hull (A)|
|04 Oct 2014||v Aston Villa (A)|
|02 Nov 2014||v Man Utd (H)|
|18 Oct 2014||v Spurs (H)|
|30 Nov 2014||v Southampton (A)|