Ivanovic’s red card lost it, says Di Matteo


Chelsea manager blames defeat on defender’s dismissal

CHELSEA manager Roberto Di Matteo cited the dismissal of defender Branislav Ivanovic as the game’s major turning point after his side’s Community Shield defeat to Manchester City.

Spain striker Fernando Torres had given Chelsea a 40th-minute lead before Ivanovic’s red card – for a tackle on Aleksandar Kolarov – began a period of play in which City scored three goals to assume an ultimately unassailable advantage in a promising win.

The annual fixture officially remains a friendly but it regardless regularly represents the first opportunity to deliver a psychological blow to potential domestic rivals and in this instance gives City the first victory of the Premier League’s two overwhelmingly well-funded sides.

“It changed the game in favour of Manchester City,” said Di Matteo. “We competed very well and at that point were in the lead. It was difficult in the second half [with] 10 men.

“The challenge had no intent to hurt the opposition. It was a sliding tackle and he got the ball as well.

“Sometimes a red card is given in those circumstances, sometimes it is not. But there was no intention to harm the opponent.”

Counterpart Roberto Mancini was in agreement over the influence of Ivanovic’s exit but was adamant his side were the deserved winners at Villa Park and will have taken further satisfaction at the signing of midfielder Jack Rodwell from Everton.

“With the sending-off, it was difficult to see from the bench but it is an advantage to play with an extra player,” Mancini said.

“It had an impact on the game. It is impossible to say no because 11 versus 11 is different. But we played better than Chelsea, played better football.”

If there were any doubting Torres’s ability to replace the departed Didier Drogba then the fine nature of his finish from the edge of the penalty area with the outside of his left foot will have reminded many of his outstanding natural ability.

Ivanovic’s red card for a relatively reckless challenge just before half-time punctuated the two sides’ goals, and thereafter City simply took control.

Yaya Toure equalised in the 53rd minute and it took only a further five for Carlos Tevez to put City in front. Samir Nasri then scored in the 65th minute from Kolarov’s cutback, with Ryan Bertrand securing only an 80th-minute consolation.