Manchester City: Sky Blues' Old Pros Deliver Professional Goods Against Chelsea

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIFebruary 24, 2013

Joe Hart's ace save of Frank Lampard's penalty was the springboard to City's victory over Chelsea.
Joe Hart's ace save of Frank Lampard's penalty was the springboard to City's victory over Chelsea.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

On a day where Manchester City's whole season could have started to crumble around them, three of City's veteran big guns brought the victory against chasing Chelsea home.

City's 2-0 win over Chelsea at the Etihad restored a seven-point cushion between City and Chelsea for the second position on the Premiership table. Tottenham Hotspur has a game in hand and could overtake Chelsea for third with a victory over West Ham tomorrow.

Following a scoreless first half that saw City create more (and better) chances, the match was decided in the second half on three huge moments where City stalwarts stood tall.

In the 52nd minute, City defender Kolo Toure lost Chelsea striker Demba Ba for a split second, which gave Ba all the time he needed to rush in on City keeper Joe Hart alone.

Hart, City's No. 1 keeper since 2010, fouled Ba. While it was not much of a foul, the penalty was correctly given, and Hart was left to answer for his own error.

And he did.

Frank Lampard, seeking his 200th Chelsea goal from the spot, fired low and to Hart's right. Hart's lunge was pure, his guess was dead-on and the save he made was exquisite.

Eleven minutes later, Yaya Toure, signed from Barcelona in 2010, took a pass from David Silva in a harmless-looking position.

But Yaya plus the ball in the penalty area is never harmless. A touch or two later, Yaya had picked out Chelsea keeper Petr Cech's far post, and City had the 1-0 lead that Lampard could not give his team.

Still, Chelsea remained very much a threat. That is, until another City elder statesman finished the job.

Carlos Tevez, brought to City in 2009, lashed a ground-to-air missile into the top corner past Cech's right shoulder in the 85th minute to seal the envelope on City's win.

So much is made of the way Manchester City spends money to acquire players. Perhaps that is fair, although it is not like Chelsea or Manchester United pay their players in assistance checks and £10 gift cards.

But City's win today was not the result of the splashy signings of Jack Rodwell, Javi Garcia or Matija Nastasic (though all three acquitted themselves well against Chelsea.)

Rather, it was Joe Hart's save, Yaya Toure's opening tally and Carlos Tevez's exclamation point that together formed the difference.

All this, while undermined Chelsea captain John Terry remained glued to Chelsea's bench and embattled striker Fernando Torres was only called upon for a ten-minute cameo.

This fixture was billed in some circles as a match between sides with managers under fire and whose seasons were on the brink.

That is still true now.

But only for Chelsea, thanks to the heroics of City's most reliable heroes.