The Chelsea revival continued as the champions moved into third place in the Premier League with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Manchester City.
It was the Samba show as Brazilians David Luiz and Ramires sunk the visitors with goals inside the last 12 minutes to keep the Blues’ title hopes alive.
City had started the brighter with Yaya Toure testing Petr Cech, but as the game wore on Carlo Ancelotti’s side grew and by the final whistle were more than deserved winners.
The Italian sprung a bit of a surprise in his team selection, with Salomon Kalou chosen to partner Fernando Torres after his cameo against Blackpool, meaning both Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka were on a strong Chelsea bench.
Following Toure’s early chance the champions began to get a foothold in the game as Kalou burst into the area, only to be tripped by a team mate – Ramires, then Ashley Cole went close and Florent Malouda lashed into the side netting. All the good work was coming down the left flank, but Chelsea struggled to break down a resistant City, and Torres was finding it hard to get into the game. His one glimmer snuffed out by Nigel De Jong after Kalou had put the Spaniard in behind.
It was clear City were happy to settle for a point as Edin Dzeko did nothing to merit is own hefty price tag, as City’s threat was constantly extinguished by the brilliant Luiz.
The only defensive worry was the knock picked up by reinstated England captain John Terry following a clash with Toure, but true to character the Chelsea skipper carried on, and in truth was never stretched.
As City started to sit deeper Ancelotti made his move, sending on both Drogba and Anelka for Torres Malouda.
It didn’t take long for the changes to make an impact as, following show Luiz showboating won a free kick down the left, Drogba whipped over the cross and Luiz was there to glance home his second Chelsea goal, both against Manchester sides.
It was the icing on the cake for the young defender as this familiar attacking threat added to his already improving defensive performance.
The game was wrapped up in stoppage time when Ramires picked up the ball from Essien, danced through the visitor’s defence and calming clipped the ball past Joe Hart.
It capped another solid performance from the champions, and their slim hopes of retaining their crown remain and grew with this result. The performance of the likes of Luiz and Ramires show this is still plenty of life left in this aging Chelsea side, and with a game in hand on United, and a trip to Old Trafford to come, Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping his side’s mixture of experience and flair can create a few more twists in this domestic season.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Luiz, Terry, Essien, Ramires, Lampard, Malouda (Anelka 70), Torres (Drogba 70), Kalou (Zhirkov 77)
Man City: Hart, Richards, Kompany, Kolarov, Lescott, Milner (Johnson 81), Barry, Silva, De Jong, Y Toure (Balotelli 80), Dzeko
Man of the Match: David Luiz