ewis Hall impressed as Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick and Julian Alvarez’s far post tap-in helped Manchester City defeat a downbeat Chelsea team which cannot wait for the World Cup break.
The Blues had started well in an even Carabao Cup tie at the Etihad Stadium, creating several openings but squandered their chances.
At the other end, they were error-prone after half-time with Edouard Mendy bamboozled by his own wall failing to jump for Mahrez’s free-kick.
A bog-standard counter attack was then not defended well as Alvarez turned home against a tired-looking Chelsea.
Nizaar Kinsella was at the Etihad Stadium to witness the action…
Edward Mendy – 6
Looked shaky early on after Julian Alvarez caught him in possession by cutting out his long kick. Produced a fantastic save from Grealish in the 41st minute.
His shot-stopping was outstanding with two big saves early in the second half on Grealish again. There was confusion on Mahrez’s free-kick as he blamed the wall for not jumping to block the shot.
Trevoh Chalobah – 5
Chalobah has played every single minute for Chelsea since Wesley Fofana’s injury on October 5. He did look a bit leggier than usual and struggled in a makeshift defence. Maybe something had to give after such an effort playing every week. He finally came off for a rest in the 68th minute.
Kalidou Koulibaly – 4
In only his second start since his recent injury, he was unconvincing in his clearances and tackles early on. His miscue could have ended up in his own goal and his heavy tackle outside the box on Jack Grealish could have faced a more severe punishment. Played Alvarez onside with poor positioning for his 29th-minute effort.
Arguably at fault for Mahrez’s free kick goal after he failed to jump while in the wall. It seemed to bamboozle his goalkeeper, who was left on his heels as it nestled in his net.
Marc Cucurella – 6
After Man City chased Cucurella all summer, he showed them what they were missing with an assured display. His use of possession was key as Guardiola’s pressing targeted his left side. Made a goal-saving tackle early in the second half on Mahrez, bailing out Mateo Kovacic in the process.
He still found himself out of position for City’s second goal which came after a Mahrez effort on his side.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 6
Back at right wing-back in the ever-lasting saga to cover Reece James’s absence. Loftus-Cheek produced an impressive dribble in the 13th minute that almost led to the first goal. He was busy defensively but performed his duties with class and discipline.
Mateo Kovacic – 6
Wearing the captain’s armband, he led the team through his composition in the middle. Rarely gave it away and released Christian Pulisic for a major first-half chance.
Denis Zakaria – 6
He was solid yet underwhelming in the middle and could not influence the game as profoundly as he did on his debut last week against Dinamo Zagreb. Substituted in the 68th minute.
Lewis Hall – 7
The 18-year-old was making only his second appearance for Chelsea and found himself in a battle with a player from his same age group, fellow 2004-born Rico Lewis. Produced an impressive dribble after 12 minutes to win a free kick. Unfortunately, he got caught in possession midway through the first half goal Man City wasted their chance to punish Chelsea.
His incisive ball in the 34th minute was more typical of his distribution which was solid throughout. Almost did everything right to score after getting on the end of a Pulisic counter-attack but the shot was well saved by Ortega.
Hakim Ziyesh – 6
The Moroccan has played fewer minutes than any senior member of Chelsea’s squad this season but produced a cross in the 13th minute that almost led to Pulisic scoring an opening goal.
He was generally poor throughout but produced the skill of the game, pivoting on the touchline to rescue a bad Loftus-Cheek pass and set up a massive chance for Hall.
Armando Broja – 5
Hit a powerful shot both high and wide early in the first 10 minutes. His direct running troubled at times but it was not enough to give Potter a reason to drop Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Saturday.
Christian Pulisic – 5
Scuffed a quality early chance after Ziyech’s cross, as a defender also got a touch. He produced a much better effort with his second shot after dribbling almost 40 yards before his effort was well saved by Stefan Ortega. His speed on the break almost broke the deadline through Hall late in the first half. Ended the game at left wing-back.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 6
He produced an outstanding cross in the 85th minute but neither Kai Havertz or Pulisic could get on the end of it. He did so playing at center back, trying to push for goals late on.
Conor Gallagher – 6
A more attacking option than Zakaria, he helped Chelsea push for goals late on but was not transformative.
Mason Mount – 7
His ability between the lines helped Chelsea’s pacey runners overlap and create chances. It worked to some extent but it was not enough. Almost netted in the 88th minute after a great first touch that rescued Gallagher’s shanked shot. He had the ball in the net late on after a flurry of efforts but it was flagged offside.
Raheem Sterling – 6
Sterling was cheered on his first appearance back in the north-west since leaving over the summer. It was a hero’s welcome for a player who has been a perennial winner on this ground. He was tidy in possession and desperate to help his current club but failed to read the one big chance created by Havertz.
Kai Havertz – 7
Shanked his shot from 25 yards upon coming on as the final substitution. He produced a killer cross in the final few minutes that Man City’s Sterling would have turned home, but Chelsea’s could not. Looking at his influence in the last 10 minutes, he should arguably have come on sooner.
Unused subs: Marcus Bettinelli; Thiago Silva; Hutchinson, Aubameyang