Chelsea kept on the heels of early pace setters Arsenal as Fernando Torres inspired a win over Manchester City. The Spanish striker made the opener for Andre Schurrle before Sergio Aguero cancelled that out. Torres profited from a defensive calamity, however, to seal victory for the hosts.
Jose Mourinho welcomed back Ashley Cole from a rib injury, so Cesar Azpilicueta made way in the only alteration from their 3-0 away win at Schalke. Torres, buoyed by a midweek brace, continued to lead the line.
City coach Manuel Pellegrini meanwhile handed a debut to Argentine defender Martin Demichelis. There were three changes from the Champions League victory at CSKA Moscow.
Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy also came into the XI. Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas and Aleksandar Kolarov dropped out. Javi Garcia moved into midfield, freeing stand-in skipper Yaya Toure to play further forward.
Similar setups meant this encounter had few openings. Gary Cahill volleyed over early for Chelsea as Oscar put the second ball from a corner into the box. Torres then spurned a guilt-edge chance, blazing over from Ramires’s clipped centre as Demichelis had a shaky debut.
Not to be discouraged by this glaring miss, Torres laid the opener on a plate for Schurrle after the half hour. Racing down the right channel, the City defence failed to cut out his low cross. Schurrle tapped in, giving German great Franz Beckenbauer something to smile at in the stands.
Torres then rattled the underside of the bar with a wicked striker after coming infield from the left flank. City meanwhile were largely reduced to long range efforts in the first half, doing little with the lion’s share of possession.
Aguero worked Petr Cech with a shot from a tight angle that was beaten away. The Argentine brought City level moments after the break, however. Aguero lashed high into the Chelsea net past Cech with the hosts cut apart by Nasri’s slide-rule pass in the left channel.
Mourinho’s men responded to being pegged back with a tame Torres header falling easily for Joe Hart. The Chelsea old guard then combined with John Terry turning a Frank Lampard free kick over. David Silva then drew a reaction stop from the outstretched foot of Cech at the other end.
Ramires blasted over after both teams made changes, which included the introductions of Samuel Eto’o and Negredo. Sub Willian curled a late free kick just wide. Torres nicked all three points for Chelsea at the death, tapping in when Hart and Matija Nastasic had a horrible defensive mix up.
The Special One’s midas touch appears to have reinvigorated Torres. Chelsea keep pace with Liverpool in the chasing pack behind Arsenal and are up to second. Pellegrini and City meanwhile sit seventh, but still above neighbours Manchester United.
- Chelsea: 1 Petr Cech, 2 Branislav Ivanovic, 24 Gary Cahill, 26 John Terry (c), 3 Ashley Cole, 7 Ramires, 8 Frank Lampard (12 John Obi Mikel 66’), 17 Eden Hazard (29 Samuel Eto’o 84’), 11 Oscar, 14 Andre Schurrle (22 Willian 66’), 9 Fernando Torres 4-2-3-1
- Goals: Andre Schurrle 33’, Fernando Torres 90’
- Man City: 1 Joe Hart, 5 Pablo Zabaleta, 26 Martin Demichelis, 33 Matija Nastasic, 22 Gael Clichy, 14 Javi Garcia (13 Aleksandar Kolarov 80’), 25 Fernandinho, 8 Samir Nasri (15 Jesus Navas 70’), 42 Yaya Toure (c), 21 David Silva, 16 Sergio Aguero (9 Alvaro Negredo 87’) 4-2-3-1
- Goals: Sergio Aguero 49’