Rebel striker sets up Nasri winner in first game for six months as City cut United lead
MAN CITY 2 vs CHELSEA 1
MANCHESTER CITY manager Roberto Mancini hailed Carlos Tevez last night after the rebel striker came off the bench to inspire a comeback win that reignited the flagging club’s Premier League title charge.
In his first match for six months following a bitter feud with Mancini, Tevez injected fresh vigour into a wilting side trailing to resurgent Chelsea – and then played the killer pass for Samir Nasri’s late winner.
It hoisted City to within one point of leaders Manchester United, whom they could overtake on Saturday, and inflicted a first defeat of caretaker Blues boss Roberto di Matteo’s hitherto flawless four-game run.
Chelsea had looked set to end Mancini’s own 100 per cent league record at Eastlands this term when defender Gary Cahill’s deflected shot crept in, but striker Sergio Aguero’s penalty levelled before Nasri struck with five minutes left – with help from Tevez.
“I am happy because he did well,” the City chief said of Tevez. “He’s not in good form or 100 per cent fit but he knows football. We didn’t deserve to go down 1-0 but we desired to win this game. I think we are back on track. It’s more than three points.”
City’s 20th successive home league win set a new Premier League record and ended Di Matteo’s honeymoon spell since replacing the sacked Andre Villas-Boas. The Italian blamed a “harsh” penalty decision, given for Michael Essien’s handball.
“I think it was tough on us. We fought very hard and deserved a point at least,” said Di Matteo. “The penalty gave them a big lift. I thought it was harsh; I don’t think he could make his hand disappear. It was harsh but it was handball.”
Defender Cahill’s opportunistic shot ricocheted off Yaya Toure past the wrong-footed Hart in the 60th minute, setting up a shock. But on came Tevez, Aguero equalised and the recalled exile teed up midfielder Nasri to dink home.