Manchester City put in a sterling performance at Stamford Bridge, beating League leaders Chelsea, 4-2.
Chelsea’s resounding defeat was made worse as they ended the match with only nine men, after both Juliano Belletti and Michael Ballack saw red.
The win came following a difficult week for both men, with Carlos Tevez spending time in Argentina to be with his wife and prematurely-born baby daughter, and Wayne Bridge quiting the England World Cup squad after finding out that his compatriot John Terry had an affair with Bridge’s former partner.
Things got underway just after Bridge publicly and speedily snubbed Terry’s offer of a handshake in the pre-match customary handshake between all players, indicating that he is not ready just yet to forgive and forget.
Fans of Bridge meanwhile, backed their captain with a huge ovation as his name aired on the PA system. There was an air of confidence in the Chelsea camp, as they moved to prove themselves the superior side in the "Battle of Billionaires".
Both teams took some time to settle, but it was Chelsea who found their feet first, when Frank Lampard slotted the ball home in the 41st minute, after a sublime pass from Joe Cole, keen to impress England coach Fabio Capello, who was in attendance.
Just before the half-time whistle, however, Carlos Tevez picked up a lobbed pass and weaved his way through Terry and Ricardo Carvalho before slipping in a precise shot past Chelsea keeper Hilario.
City went into the break, confident they were very much in the game. And if anyone still had doubts that City was serious about winning the match, those thoughts disappeared just minutes into the second half.
Craig Bellamy picked up the ball in the middle of the pitch and sprinted down the field with it, not unlike Usain Bolt. He then put on an extra spurt of speed to beat Jon Obi Mikel before hitting it low and hard, past Hilario.
Chelsea were still creating chances, but Nicholas Anelka and Didier Drogba just could not beat the unflappable City keeper Shay Given. And with time running out, Chelsea’s worst nightmare came to fruition.
Fifteen minutes to go and Belletti brought down Gareth Barry in front of the Chelsea goal. Belletti was rightly sent off for denying City a goal-scoring opportunity, and Carlos Tevez made no mistake from the spot.
A great penalty, though Hilario’s attempt to save it was second-class at best.
Michael Ballack compounded the gloom for Carlo Ancelotti when he got himself a second yellow card for rashly felling Tevez. Bellamy then wrapped up the points by scoring an easy goal after Shaun Wright Philips had torn apart the nonexistent Chelsea defence, allowing him to exact some revenge on his former employers.
Lampard scored a consolation goal for the Blues, as another penalty was awarded following Barry’s challenge on Anelka.
At the end of the day though, Mancini’s Man City had the last laugh. Wayne Bridge and Co. firmly did their talking on the pitch, and it would take a brave man to bet against City taking the fourth spot away from Liverpool.
Craig Bellamy had this to say on the Terry/Bridge situation after the match, as quoted by BBC:
“You guys make a lot more of it. I know what JT is like and nothing surprises me about him. Everyone knows what he's like. But that's off the pitch. On it he's an outstanding player and a great captain.”
However, the “outstanding” Terry did not show up today. If Chelsea are going to win the League title for the first time since 2006, he will have to.