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Sunday, 3 December, 2000, 18:49 GMT
Chelsea survive City fightback
Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City
Chelsea survived a spirited second-half fightback from Manchester City to clinch a nail-biting win at Stamford Bridge.
The result had looked a formality for 45 minutes as the home side dominated and carved out a 2-0 lead through Gianfranco Zola and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
But City, prompted largely by the introduction of half-time substitute Paul Dickov, battled back gamely in the second half in an attempt to avoid a sixth successive defeat.
Claudio Ranieri handed the Chelsea captaincy to Marcel Desailly and played the Frenchman in an unfamiliar central midfield role in the absence of the suspended Dennis Wise.
Ranieri also switched to a 4-3-3 formation in a bid to improve upon a return of just one point from their last four games.
The switch paid off against a City side with only one point from their four visits to the capital this season and Chelsea completely dominated the first half.
They came within a whisker of opening the scoring on 24 minutes when Desailly's glancing header from a Zola corner looked destined for the back of the net with Nicky Weaver in no-man's-land, but Danny Tiatto was perfectly positioned to head the ball off the line.
Two minutes later, Hasselbaink overstretched for a Zola cross and saw his header flash well wide, but Chelsea fans did not have to wait much longer to witness a breakthrough.
The goal came with a big helping hand from City skipper Alf Inge Haaland, whose miscontrol allowed the ball to roll into the path of Zola.
But the rest was all down to the little Italian, who cut into the penalty area and found space away from Steve Howey before stroking a right-foot shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
The goal was no less than Chelsea deserved and they doubled their advantage following a sweeping move on the stroke of half time.
Zola's delightful pass down the right put Mario Melchiot clear and his low cross was clinically finished off by Hasselbaink for his first goal in five matches.
The timing of the goal should have knocked the stuffing out of City, but Joe Royle's side came flying back after the interval.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, who had struggled to shake off the effects of a stomach bug in the opening 45 minutes, suddenly looked revitalised.
His promptings just behind the front two began to ask questions of the Chelsea defence and Haaland had a chance to make ammends for his earlier error, only to poke wide of a post from six yards.
City went close again soon after when Jeff Whitley broke into the penalty area and saw a stinging shot pushed round by Ed de Goey.
From the resulting corner, Wright-Phillips' drive from the edge of the penalty area was deflected over and the young striker was out of luck again 15 minutes from time when his snap shot drifted agonisingly wide.
But City finally grabbed themselves a lifeline eight minutes from time when Horlock's speculative drive led to de Goey punching the ball straight into the path of substitute Dickov, who sidefooted home from 10 yards.
The goal set up a frantic finish in which Chelsea's defence came under constant pressure.
Two minutes into injury time City came desperately close to snatching a point and again it was Wright Phillips with the chance.
Goater's cushioned downward header set the striker up but his shot from the edge of the area flew wide with de Goey rooted to his line.
Chelsea: de Goey, Babayaro, Leboeuf, Desailly, Melchiot, Morris, Gudjohnsen, Dalla Bona, Zola, Terry, Hasselbaink. Subs: Bogarde, Poyet, Cudicini, Slatter, Harley.
Manchester City: Weaver, Horlock, Prior, Howey, Charvet, Goater, Haaland, Whitley, Tiatto, Wanchope, Wright-Phillips. Subs: Wiekens, Dickov, Wright, Dunne, Kennedy.
Referee: Dermot Gallagher
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