Frank Lampard’s late penalty kick sent 10-man Manchester City to its first Premier League defeat of the season as Chelsea rallied for a 2-1 win.
Lampard, on as a second-half substitute, converted an 83rd- minute spot kick at Stamford Bridge in London last night after Daniel Sturridge’s shot struck Joleon Lescott’s raised arm. Mario Balotelli put the visiting team ahead after 97 seconds and Raul Meireles made it 1-1 in the 34th minute.
The victory lifted Chelsea two places in the standings to third, seven points behind City, which tops England’s elite soccer division with 38 points after falling to its first loss in 15 league games. Manchester United is two points back in second place.
“We needed to win to stay in the race,” Lampard said in a televised interview. “Ten points is a huge gap and luckily we’ve closed that.”
Lampard drilled his penalty kick straight down the middle 10 minutes after coming on for Meireles as Chelsea pushed for the winning goal following Gael Clichy’s 58th-minute ejection. It was the third red card shown to a City player in the team’s past six league games.
While City manager Roberto Mancini didn’t disagree with Clichy’s red card, he said the turning point was when referee Mark Clattenburg decided not to award a first-half penalty for a challenge on David Silva by Chelsea’s Jose Bosingwa.
“The referee was only a few meters away and was not certain,” Mancini said in comments on City’s website. “But he was certain when the ball struck Joleon Lescott’s arm from just a few meters away in the second half.”
Balotelli gave City the lead within two minutes after taking Sergio Aguero’s pass and dribbling the ball around Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech to score. Aguero dragged a 14th- minute shot wide before Clattenburg waved play on when Silva fell under Bosingwa’s challenge.
Chelsea tied it 11 minutes before half time when Meireles volleyed Sturridge’s cross past City goalkeeper Joe Hart. A minute after the restart, Sturridge went close to scoring against his former team with a rising drive.
City went down to 10 men when Clichy, who had been booked for fouling Sturridge early in the second half, tripped Ramires to earn a second yellow card.
Although Mancini removed attackers Aguero and Silva for defender Kolo Toure and midfielder Nigel de Jong, Lampard’s goal sealed Chelsea’s third straight league win to end City’s 17-game unbeaten run stretching back to last season.
“Our objective was to shorten the distance to the leaders,” Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said in a televised interview. “We needed to do our job to get our challenge back on track and I think it’s pretty much alive now.”
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