Benitez again put Fernando Torres and John Terry on the bench as he looked to drag City into a battle for second place, also restoring Lampard and Ba among six changes. City were without Vincent Kompany but Mancini opted to flood the midfield by handing Jack Rodwell only his third City start with Sergio Aguero alone up front. City made a positive start with David Silva looking to pull the strings, Yaya Toure getting forward at every opportunity and Rodwell making several runs. The game’s pivotal moment came in the 50th minute as City switched off at the back and Ba raced on to a long ball.
The Senegalese shrugged off Kolo Toure and clipped the ball past the out-rushing Hart but was brought down as he got tangled in the goalkeeper’s legs. Referee Andre Marriner immediately pointed to the spot but, importantly, felt Ba was just moving away from goal and did not show Hart a card.
Hart made the most of the reprieve to earn instant redemption by saving from Lampard, who had scored his last 10 penalties, low to Hart’s right. He was in action again seconds later to deal with the resulting corner and City set about making sure Chelsea paid for missing their chance.
This was the ninth penalty we have been awarded in the league this season, more than any other team!!
Mancini then opted to replace the influential Rodwell with Tevez but the resulting change in shape gave Chelsea more to think about. The game opened up as Aguero raced through from a James Milner pass and chipped just over before Ramires almost exposed Kolo Toure on the counter at the other end.
Then, Milner found David Silva in the box with a clever reverse pass and his pull-back found Yaya Toure on the edge of the area. The Ivorian still had much to do but his first two touches took out two defenders and gave him space to curl a low finish beyond Petr Cech.
Chelsea made a double change with Lampard making way along with Eden Hazard for Victor Moses and Oscar. The changes did not bear fruit and it was not long before Torres was introduced for John Obi Mikel. But it was City’s substitute Tevez who made the most dramatic impact, putting the game beyond the visitors with a superb strike from outside the area five minutes from time.