Chelsea 0 Manchester City 0

By Paul Lagan
Last updated : 25 November 2012

Chelsea got a point, a clean sheet, but the 0-0 draw against champions Manchester City wasincidental   to the awful reception heaped upon Rafa Benetiz  before and during his bow as Chelsea boss.

The Blues, top of the league just weeks ago are now fourth, five points off leaders Manchester United.

The booing of Rafa Benitez from what seemed the whole of Stamford Bridge was immaculately observed as was the minute's applause for former Chelsea boss Dave Sexton who died today.

Ashley Cole had to be at his very best to thwart a City attack on four minutes while a chorus "Rafa Beneitz you're not wanted here,' continued to ring out from the stands.

This was followed by "fat Spanish waiter" as the football, for the opening segment of the game was deemed irrelevant by the Chelsea faithful.

Fernando Torres fluffed the first chance he got on 14 minutes when he tried to latch onto a brilliant through ball by Juan Mata. Placards of 'Rafa Out' and 'Thank you Di Matteo' were clearly visible from fans in the

Matthew Harding Stand when, on the 16th minute, in recognition of sacked Di Matteo, the crowd erupted into 'One Di Matteo'.

The significance of the 16 is that it was the former Chelsea midfielder's squad number. Back to the action, such as it was, and James Milner saw a snap shot from just outside the

Chelsea area zip just past Petr Cech's left upright.

This was followed up with David Silva seeing a powerful header on the six-yard box inch over the crossbar after a move which torn Chelsea apart.

Rafa Benitez's first tactical change of the game came about on 21 minutes when he changed the positions of Eden Hazard from the left to that of Oscar who had been occupying the central midfield area, with little effect.

Torres almost scored for the Blues on 30 minutes. The forward was unlucky not to get to a curling Mata corner, but City goalkeeper Joe Hart stole the ball off the misfiring Spain striker head at the last moment.

Cech needed to be at his best to beat out fierce Pablo Zabaleta strike six minutes before the break.

Quite how Sergio Aguero failed to score three minutes later is anybodies guess as he Argentina striker failed to connect properly with a header seven yards from goal, following a searing City counter-attack

The ball, instead limply fell into Cech's clutches.

The second half restarted as much as the first did, with City with the greater of possession .

Ramires eventually gave the majority of the 41,792 crowd something to cheers about - an effort on goal on 53 minutes. Unfortunately for the Brazil midfielder, his 30-yard strike, although powerful failed to trouble Hart as it zipped over his crossbar.

Yaya Toure had an effort of his own on 59 minutes, this time, his daisy-cutter was fumbled by Cech but the skipper recovered in time to snaffle the ball.

Torres, for much of the game looking forlorn aced a beauty of a left-foot on 62 after excellent set up play by Oscar. But the firmly-hit strike from the edge of the City penalty area cruised over the crossbar.

Zabaleta, following what must have been his fourth foul of the game, was eventually yellow-carded by referee Chris Foy for a foul on Branislav Ivanovic on 64 ,minutes.

Benitez had seen enough of the constant pressure by City who, on 69 minutes replaced Edin Dzeko. He replaced Hazard with winger Victor Moses two minutes later.

Such is the paucity of attacking options on the Chelsea bench, untested Marko excepted, Benitez's second substitution revolved around defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu on for Mikel with 11 minutes of the dour encounter remaining.

By contrast, Roberto Mancini has the luxury of bringing Mario Balotelli into the fray with five minutes of the game left with Aguero remaining.

But that was just after Foy, inexplicably failed to give a corner when a rasper of a drive by Cole was palmed over the crossbar by Hart for a corner.

Deep into injury time Cech clutched the ball from a header by Matija Nastasic to his chest as if it was a precious cargo.

There was still time for Balotelli to bizarrely get a booking by Foy after he was shoulder-charged by Luiz.

Chelsea face neighbours Fulham, at the Bridge on Wednesday, but with just one shot on target, new boy Benitez will have to change things round, and quick.

Teams: Chelsea : - Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, Luiz, Ramires, Torres, Mata, Oscar, Mikel, Hazard, Azpilicueta Subs Turnbull, Romeu, Moses, Ferreira, Marin, Cahill, Bertrand.

Manchester City: - Hart, Kompany, Zabaleta, Milner, Dzeko, Kolarov, Aguero, Barry, Silva, Nastasic, Yaya Toure, Subs: Pantilimon,Maicon, Nasri, Garcia, Kolo Toure, Tevez, Balotelli Referee: Chris Foy

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