Sergio Agüero flexed his big-game muscles and netted a well-taken hat-trick as the Citizens strolled to a comfortable 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge against a sloppy Chelsea side.
Morale continues to rise within City camp
As a result, Manuel Pellegrini‘s men climb a place into third – with Arsenal set to face Crystal Palace in tomorrow afternoon’s clash from the Emirates. For a side that has struggled with consistency and faltered upon multiple occasions already this season, the sky Blues’ progression into the Champions League semi-finals has certainly rejuvenated the first-team squad: there is clear harmony between players and they’ve all been linking up together well in recent weeks.
It’d be typical of City to get slightly complacent at this time of year considering what’s at stake: a two-legged semi-final tie against La Liga giants Real Madrid awaits, with a spot in May’s final at the San Siro up for grabs. But instead of focus on what’s ahead, they comfortably dispatched a Chelsea side that have fallen dramatically from grace in recent months – having lifted the Premier League trophy just eleven months ago.
Energetic, unpredictable, exciting
Nicolas Otámendi made a last-ditch goal-line clearance to keep City’s clean sheet intact after just five minutes, before Ruben Loftus-Cheek created a chance out of seemingly nothing and watched his strike flash agonisingly wide of Joe Hart‘s far post.
Kevin de Bruyne was denied twice by his Belgian compatriot Thibaut Courtois in the Chelsea goal, before a sharp counter-attack split the Blues’ backline in half – and Agüero curled home from the edge of the box with poise and deadly precision.
Willian fired his free-kick effort over the crossbar on the stroke of the half-time interval, before the hosts got off to an encouraging start shortly after the break.
A particularly telling second-half
Pedro Rodríguez was doing his best to weave his way into the area, and Loftus-Cheek saw an effort fire high and wide, not troubling Hart. It was soon two-nil though, after another counter-attack was clinically finished by Aguero. Kevin de Bruyne and Samir Nasri were especially involved, with the latter slipping the Argentine through with a one-on-one, and Sergio was never in doubt as he stroked home with aplomb past a helpless Courtois.
Courtois, who was one of the hosts’ best players on the afternoon, made another smart save to deny Nasri from close-range before he was sent off in the 77th minute by referee Mike Dean. Fernandinho skinned Gary Cahill on an advancing run into the area, and Courtois clipped the Brazilian’s leg as the midfield fell to ground – denying a goalscoring opportunity in the process.
Unfortunate, but Asmir Begovic came on in his place and was unable to stop Aguero from sealing his hat-trick, as Sergio sent him the wrong way and sealed all three points with ten minutes plus stoppages to play. The full-time whistle was eventually blown, met by away cheers and some home boos too. Plenty of good performances for the visitors, especially Aguero and de Bruyne – who were both excellent in an efficient display of counter-attacking football.