Chelsea 4-4 Manchester City: Cole Palmer delivers last-gasp dagger to his former club as his stoppage-time penalty forces a share of the spoils after pulsating clash… with Erling Haaland scoring a brace
- Chelsea sealed a dramatic point against Manchester City after Cole Palmer’s penalty inside stoppage time
- Erling Haaland scored a brace in the dramatic showdown, with the champions leading on three occasions
- Why we should get excited about Cole Palmer – Listen here to It’s All Coming Up
The pressure was enormous, the weather was awful and then the goalkeeper, a quite recent team-mate, went the right way. But none of that seemed to mean anything to Chelsea’s Cole Palmer. His penalty kick in the 95th minute was struck so purely and so true at Stamford Bridge that nothing was ever likely to keep it out.
And so the latest line in the remarkable short story of a 21-year-old midfield player was written. This was about a vital point for his new club – the second big result against an important rival in the space of a week – but it was also about much more than that.
Palmer was until late summer, a City player. And then, very suddenly, they sold him to Chelsea where he has quickly established himself as not only the London club’s best player but also someone who England manager Gareth Southgate is talking about.
City manager Pep Guardiola sounded a little grumpy about the whole thing when asked about it on Friday. He had promised Palmer game time this season, he claimed.
What Guardiola will feel now is doubtless a whole heap of irritation but also maybe when all that fades some faint pride, too. Palmer is, after all, one of City’s own. He had been at the club since when he was six-years-old. When they choose to fly is it too much to ask to wish them well?
Here Palmer played a key role in what may well be the most intoxicating game of his young career. This was, after all, only his ninth Premier League start, six for Chelsea and three for City.
It was a game that flipped and flopped like salmon left on a riverbank. City really should have won it – they led three times – but that they didn’t only added to the sense of wonder.
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino ended the afternoon screaming in the face of the fourth official. It is unclear what sense of entitlement it is that gives our managers the confidence to behave like that but it needs to change. It was a dreadful way to end the day.
In terms of the football, though, Pochettino will take much from this.
Behind early to an Erling Haaland penalty that probably should not have been given, his team came back to lead thanks to goals from Thiago Silva and Raheem Sterling only for Manuel Akanji to equalise with a header and Haaland to slide City back ahead in the first couple of minutes of the second half.
Chelsea came again and when their under pressure forward Nicolas Jackson scored from a rebound, that seemed set to be the headline of the afternoon. But a late deflected goal by City midfielder Rodri allowed Palmer to have his moment.
Chelsea: Sanchez, Disasi, Silva, Cucurella, James (Gusto, 64), Fernandez (Mudryk, 64), Caicedo (Broja, 90), Gallagher, Sterling, Palmer, Jackson (Ugochukwu, 90+6)
Subs not used: Petrovic, Badiashile, Madueke, Maatsen, Matos
Goals: Silva 29, Sterling 37, Jackson 67, Palmer 90+5
Booked: Cucurella, Palmer, Caicedo, Jackson, Sterling
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Akanji, Dias, Gvardiol, Rodri, Bernardo, Doku (Grealish, 59), Foden, Alvarez (Kovacic, 79), Haaland
Subs not used: Ortega, Carson, Phillips, Nunes, Bobb, Lewis
Goals: Haaland 25 (P), 47, Akanji 45+1, Rodri 86
Booked: Doku, Rodri, Grealish
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Only three of eight added minutes had passed when Ruben Dias slid in to Chelsea substitute Armando Broja in the penalty area but the circumstances didn’t seem to faze Palmer even for a minute. He never looked remotely as though he was going to miss.
Chelsea’s win at Tottenham last Monday had come in such extreme and vaguely ridiculous circumstances that it was hard to know whether it would help them much here against the best team in the land.
When they fell behind, it was hard not to feel for them a little. Haaland and his marker Marc Cucurella had a fist full of each other’s shirts as they anticipated the arrival of a cross from the left side. Who was holding who at the outset?
It seemed that Haaland had quite possibly made the first move and as such it seemed hard on Cucurella when referee Anthony Taylor blew for a penalty. With that decision made on the back of what appeared to be a 50-50 call, it was unlikely the VAR team would over rule it and they didn’t.
Perhaps this is how VAR should work more often. Whatever the case, Haaland’s penalty was taken with such calm it’s a wonder that anybody ever misses. City were ahead and there 23 minutes gone.
Prior to that, it had an even game. City had controlled possession but Chelsea had managed to get beyond their opponents’ midfield line on enough occasions to offer them some encouragement and all that hope was realised sooner than they had possibly ever hoped.
A Reece James free-kick from a central position was touched over by City goalkeeper Ederson in the 28th minute but his markers were not on their mettle when the resuliing corner arrived from the right.
With Palmer blocking Haaland’s defensive run at the near post, Silva was able to run from deep and head unchallenged down and across goal and in to the far corner of the net.
One of those goals that would have given Pochettino and his coaches the satisfaction of knowing that work on the training field had paid off, it will have irritated the hell out of City. They simply had to defend it better than that.
Briefly City reasserted themselves. Phil Foden set up Haaland with a superb far post chip but it was only the side netting that was troubled. Then Foden himself shifted the ball on to his left foot 20 yards out and curled a shot of his own only half a yard wide.
By now, though, it was a strangely open game and for a while that was to the benefit of the home team. City don’t like being pulled in to end to end scraps. They seek control and calm.
But Chelsea are growing slowly under their new manager and when they worked an opportunity to attack City down the right six minutes before half-time they took what turned out to be a very brief lead.
Palmer’s pass through to James down the right was actually marginally over hit but that meant it struck the heels of covering City defender Josko Gvardiol and when it rebounded to the Chelsea captain, he was able to cross low for Sterling to score at the far post.
Stamford Bridge was by now awash with joy. Chelsea haven’t troubled the really big teams here for far too long and two goals in the space of ten minutes was threatening to ignite their season.
The problem was that there were still 50 minutes or so of football left and to play and by the time we had played a handful of them – either side of half-time – Chelsea were not only no longer ahead, they were behind once more.
Haaland was actually denied a chance to level things up when Robert Sanchez dropped to his left to save but City didn’t have to wait long. A City corner from the right was recycled to Bernardo Silva, he crossed simply for Akanji to rise unmarked and head in to the corner.
And this was the problem for Pochettino. His team had played well with the ball. They were quick and direct and had shown themselves to be unusually clinical.
But City were simply creating too many chances and when Haaland allowed Foden and then Julian Alvarez to build down the right in the opening moments of the second half, the Argentinean’s low cross was slid in rather unconventionally by Haaland from a yard at the back post.
This felt like City’s game now. Perhaps for the first time, they looked and felt as though they were in proper control. Jeremy Doku could have stretched the lead on the counter only to shoot straight at Sanchez. He also flung himself over in search of a penalty and was quite appropriately booked. It felt like a fourth goal would arrive soon enough.
Chelsea’s hope, though, was that they continued to carry an individual threat.
They didn’t have an awful lot of territory as the game wore on but Palmer almost scored one of the goals of the season, beating three men to draw a low save from Ederson, and then, with 23 minutes remaining, they dragged themselves back in to the game once again.
Conor Gallagher’s low drive probably should have been parried to the side by Ederson as he dived low to his left. But the Brazilian had just been treated for an injury and the rain was by now sweeping relentlessly across the field.
So when the ball popped back from his parry, Jackson was first on the scene to take an assured touch and ease it in to the goal for his fourth goal in seven days.
It almost got better for Chelsea soon after.
A neat run by Sterling on the right teed up substitute Malo Gusto but the shot was hurried and panicked and flew high over the bar when only Ederson stood between the Frenchman and glory.
With the rain now so relentless that Pochettino had to call for a towel to wipe it from his eyes, he must have felt at least that he was starting to look at the sight of a team slowly growing and coming together.
With four minutes to go, Chelsea had a draw in their hands. Then, when Rodri’s low shot flew past Sanchez via Silva’s outstretched foot, they seemed to have dropped it again.
From that point on, this was Palmer’s story to write.
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