City send Mourinho home with plenty to ponder
Less than two weeks after suffering league defeat, City turn things around in the FA Cup
Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko battles for the ball with David Luiz at the Etihad Stadium. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Wire.
Manchester City 2 Chelsea 0
Twelve days after losing to their Premier League title rivals at the Etihad Stadium, City rediscovered some of their verve to make a firm statement at the same venue.
Jovetic continued his rehabilitation after an injury-hit campaign to open the scoring after 16 minutes before substitute Nasri marked his return after five weeks out with the second.
City may have been helped by the postponement of their midweek clash with Sunderland as Pellegrini opted to field a strong side just three days before the visit of Barcelona.
Yet it was clear City did not want to hold anything back ahead of that Champions League glamour tie as they sought to erase the frustrations of two games without scoring.
Yet they lacked the same fluency and although the opening exchanges were cagey, City gradually began to assert themselves and take control.
The goalkeeper was unable to keep hold but Jovetic reprieved him as he clipped the rebound onto the top of the bar.
There was no let-off a minute later as City pieced together a flowing move with David Silva threading the ball through for Edin Dzeko.
The Bosnian turned instantly to sweep the ball into the path of Jovetic, who steadied himself before guiding an inch-perfect first-time shot past Cech and in off the far post.
Costel Pantilimon, back in City’s goal in place of Joe Hart as Pellegrini continued his cup rotation policy, had an anxious moment as Chelsea tried to respond.
The Romanian failed to take a low Cesar Azpilicueta cross cleanly and eventually dived on it at the second attempt amid confusion in the area.
City stepped up the pressure with Toure dragging a long-range shot wide and Dzeko forcing a good save from Cech with a curling effort from the edge of the area.
Jovetic also turned well outside the area but could get no power on his shot.
Chelsea were struggling to create anything meaningful although Eden Hazard, City’s tormentor last week, did wriggle free to get in a shot.
Hazard was also hauled down by his Belgium captain Vincent Kompany as he attempted to engineer another opportunity.
Milner tore down the right and whipped in a dangerous low ball across the box but the sliding Dzeko narrowly failed to connect.
Mourinho sent on new signing Mohamed Salah for the second half, in place of the quiet Samuel Eto’o, but were still unable to trouble the hosts in the final third.
City looked the more fluid and Jovetic almost broke through but he lost control and went to ground as he passed Luiz and was booked for diving.
With the spark still lacking, Mourinho sent on Fernando Torres for Ramires after an hour’s play.
Pellegrini also made a change, sending on the fit-again Nasri for his first appearance in five weeks in place of Jovetic.
Mourinho’s frustration became apparent as his team continued to struggle and the Portuguese manager showed further displeasure as decisions went against him.
Nasri’s impact was almost immediate as he charged into the box and played a brilliant one-two with Silva to his left and diverted the return ball home.
City thought they had a third goal after a 75th-minute corner when Joleon Lescott pounced on a Cech fumble from a powerful Javi Garcia header but the flag was raised for offside.
Willian then made way for Oscar as Mourinho, who was barracked by the City fans, made a last attempt to salvage the match but it was too little too late as City held firm.