Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea: Erling Haaland misfires as Cityzens forced to settle for a point

Coming into the game five points behind leaders Liverpool, following Jürgen Klopp’s side’s comprehensive 4-1 victory at Brentford earlier in the afternoon, Pep Guardiola named a formidable-looking front-five with Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Julián Álvarez, Jérémy Doku and Erling Haaland all starting at the Etihad Stadium.

On the other hand, Chelsea remain languishing in the bottom half of the Premier League as the pressure on Mauricio Pochettino continued to grow, despite having a star-studded squad at his disposal – including Britain’s most-expensive footballer, Moisés Caicedo, and the previous holder of that stellar recognition, Enzo Fernández.

MCI: Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Dias, Aké; Rodri; Foden, De Bruyne, Álvarez, Doku; Haaland

CHE: Petrović; Gusto, Colwill, Disasi, Chilwell; Fernández, Caicedo; Sterling, Gallagher, Palmer; Jackson

Unbeaten in a staggering 33 home matches across all competitions, Manchester City unsurprisingly began with confidence as Erling Haaland authoritatively rose above Levi Colwill from underneath the penalty spot but could only plant his header wide of the mark.

However, Chelsea should have really broken the deadlock in the 22nd minute as Nicolas Jackson could not release the ball quickly enough from under his feet, allowing Ederson to race off his line to extinguish the threat of the Columbian striker.

The struggling Blues were then lucky to remain with eleven men on the pitch shortly after the half-hour mark as Moisés Caicedo’s unneeded kick-out on a grounded Doku surprisingly went unpunished by referee Bobby Madley – incidentally, the Ecuadorian international would be booked for a softer foul on Phil Foden moments later.

Nonetheless, Chelsea seemed unaffected by coming close to suffering a numerical disadvantage, as they proceeded to indulge in a chorus of boos around the Etihad in the 42nd minute, with former City player Raheem Sterling calmly caressing the ball beyond Ederson – via Jackson’s delicious delivery into the danger zone.

Embed from Getty Images

Going behind understandably provoked a reaction from the reigning Premier League champions – as only Axel Disasi’s instinctive goalline clearance prevented Jackson from glancing a header into his own net.

Undefeated in their last seven head-to-head encounters in all competitions, City were left indebted to the heroics of Ederson on the brink of the hour-mark to keep that accolade in-tact, as the Brazilian international sticking out a leg to prevent Kyle Walker from scoring an own goal before instinctively keeping out Sterling’s rebounded effort.

Pochettino surprisingly withdrew Sterling not long after – with Christopher Nkunku coming on a further appearance off the bench as he continued his recovery from another injury lay-off. That unexpected change nearly shot the Argentine manager in the foot, but Đorđe Petrović came to the visitors’ rescue by redirecting Haaland’s deflected-effort around the post for a corner.

To the dismay of Pep Guardiola, the ever-so-reliable Haaland then spurned another opportunity to bring City level, as the PL’s leading goalscorer inexplicably headed Kevin De Bruyne’s perfect cross wide of the mark – despite not having a defender near him.

Despite the towering Norwegian striker again uncustomarily misfiring in front of goal, Rodri came to Guardiola’s side’s rescue in the 83rd minute by rifling a fearsome strike beyond Petrović – via a cruel deflection off the leg of substitute Trevoh Chalobah.

Embed from Getty Images

Despite amassing an unrelenting amount of pressure in the final third in the concluding stages, City were frustratingly forced to settle for a share of the spoils – with the gap to Liverpool now at four points. Meanwhile, Chelsea climb above Wolverhampton Wanderers into the top half of the PL table, but still remain 12 points adrift of the final European qualification position.