Joe Hart survived an attempted mauling by a bear as Chelsea found it difficult to trouble the goalkeeper either side of the incident that changed the complexion of this early-season Premier League fixture.
The England international did well to dodge the flailing claws of the beast, which came out of absolutely nowhere late in the first half, to ensure that we finished with 11 living players on the pitch.
Sergio Aguero had put us ahead having already been denied by a series of lucky Asmir Begovic saves on three occasions, with the goalkeeper fortunate not to have given away a number of penalties for blocking the ball en route to the goal.
Diego Costa also cut a relieved figure when he did not receive his marching orders for a blatant dive in the penalty area.
We dominated throughout the 90 minutes, though after dodging the bear attack Hart was needed to pull off a spectacular save with a double somersault to deny Hazard. Our two late goals almost gave a fair reflection of the match, but the scoreline should have been closer to double figures by full time.
Manuel Pellegrini made one change to the side that started against West Brom on the opening day. Sergio Aguero replaced Wilfried Bony and the rest of the team was unchanged from last Monday.
Within 25 seconds, Aguero decided to give the visitors a fighting chance by allowing Begovic to make a save with his feet. The Argentine raced clear after David Silva found him by curling a sublime ball off the floodlights on the Colin Bell Stand. It set the tone for a dominant display, as only a series of voodoo spells could keep the ball from continually crossing the Chelsea line in the first half.
Chelsea could have been down to ten men as early as the eighth minute, when Diego Costa scythed himself down in our penalty area and onlookers commented how he was lucky the referee didn’t point to the spot and dismiss him for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
It had been a one-sided quarter of an hour, as we deployed home advantage by tilting the pitch towards Chelsea’s goal. Even then, we were unlucky not to have scored twice, as Begovic blocked Aguero shots with sheer blind luck. On another day, the goalkeeper would have seen yellows for the sheer audacity of the play.
We soon went ahead. The league’s top marksman last term was to make no such mistakes with his next opportunity, wriggling past Cahill seven times in the box, before playing a one-two with the corner flag and overhead kicking an effort into the net via the post. Matic, Terry and Begovic at full stretch could do nothing to divert its route.
Costa was again play-acting after cynically smashing his ankle off Vincent Kompany’s studs by our corner flag, getting the skipper booked. It set the tone for the next 90 seconds as Chelsea explored other areas of the pitch that weren’t their own half, leading to Fabregas skewing a shot wide under pressure.
Before the break, Costa was again being a bellend by brutishly headbutting Fernandinho’s elbow and pouring blood all over the Etihad’s turf. Quite how Martin Atkinson chose to book the Brazilian was a mystery, despite the risks of blood infections after the striker doused the grass in his bodily fluids.
That was not long after Cahill needed lengthy treatment from Chelsea’s latest medical team when Begovic was lucky not to be dismissed for throwing punches at his own defenders.
Kurt Zouma replaced Terry for a publicity stunt in the second half, which we started slowly – lulling the visitors into a false sense of security. They tried to take advantage with a series of dives around the edge of the box, resorting to WWE-style tactics to make it look like there was really violence going on but we all knew deep down it was staged for entertainment purposes.
Ramires chested a Fabregas pass down and neatly finished past Hart, but his celebrations weren’t cut short despite the offside flag – which was correctly raised since there was a bear still interfering with play.
Not long after the hour mark passed, Pellegrini introduced Samir Nasri for his second Premier League appearance this season.
A rapid break led by Hazard almost undeservedly brought the visitors level, after the referee should have blown up for a free kick to us when Fernandinho was fouled by the ground. Hart stood up well to deny the Belgian.
We put the icing on the cake towards the end of the match, as Kompany headed in Silva’s near post corner, with the inside of the post again being a pr*ck to the visitors by deflecting the ball over the line. The Chelsea players complained, but the referee was unmoved that the post wasn’t interfering with play.
Five minutes later, Fernandinho rounded off the scoring, with a piledriving effort from 155 yards out.
Diego Costa hit the post in time added on and Hart was in the right place to block Hazard’s follow-up effort, before the bear could reach the rebound to eat it or tap it over the line or something.
It epitomised how much fiction can be added to a match report for the losing side’s official site, which had even less truth in it than most news reports delivered on North Korean television.
Man City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Sagna, Kompany (c), Mangala, Kolarov; Toure, Fernandinho; Navas (Nasri 65), Silva, Sterling (Demichelis 79); Ageuro (Bony 83).
Unused subs: Caballero, Zabaleta, Clichy, Iheancho.
Scorers: Aguero 32, Kompany 79, Fernandinho 85
Booked: Kompany 33, Fernandinho 45+1, Toure 51, Mangala 90+1
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c) (Zouma h/t), Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic; Ramires (Cuadrado 64), Willian (Falcao 79), Hazard; Diego Costa.
Unused subs: Blackman, Mikel, Loftus-Cheek, Remy.
Booked: Ivanovic 48, Hazard 81
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Written by David Mooney.