Manchester City were thwarted by Cole Palmer’s 95th minute penalty as Chelsea salvaged a 4-4 draw from an incredible clash on Sunday in the Premier League.
A share of the spoils at Stamford Bridge leaves City one point ahead of Liverpool, who beat Brentford 3-0, and Arsenal at the top of the table.
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Pep Guardiola’s men went in front in controversial fashion as Erling Haaland slotted home a penalty after he had been pulled down by Marc Cucurella as the two jostled for position at the back post.
But Chelsea have often saved their best in Mauricio Pochettino’s early months in charge for the toughest opposition.
Thiago Silva powered home from a corner to equalise before Reece James pounced on an error from Josko Gvardiol to set up Raheem Sterling to net against his former club.
Chelsea’s lead did not last until the break as Manuel Akanji was afforded acres of space to head in Bernardo Silva’s cross.
City were back in front less than two minutes into the second period as Haaland slid in to meet Julian Alvarez’s cross for his 17th goal in 18 games this season.
The Blues responded once more as Nicolas Jackson snapped up a gift from Ederson after the Brazilian goalkeeper parried Conor Gallagher’s shot back into the danger zone.
Rodri’s deflected effort on 86 minutes looked to have finally settled the game in the visitors’ favour.
But Ruben Dias was penalised for diving in on Armando Broja in added time and Palmer showed no sign of nerves as he hammered home the spot-kick.
“We feel a bit exhausted,” said Rodri.
“The level of the Chelsea team has risen and it was not our best performance today. Individually, we needed to do a bit more ourselves – to concede four goals is not normal for us.”
A point edges Chelsea back into the top half, but Pochettino’s men are still 10 points off the top four.
Pochettino said his “project from zero” with Chelsea’s newly and expensively rebuilt squad was progressing and he hoped the draw against City represented two steps forward after more hesitant progress earlier in the season.
“Still far away, away in the distance,” Pochettino said when asked about Chelsea’s evolution. “That is the process, that is a different moment to this period.
“Of course, this type of performance, we need to use for the future and we can go step by step and maybe jump two steps.”
“You face a team that for me is the best team in the world and there were many things that happened during the game that made me proud, the way we managed the game was really good.”
“They are a fantastic team with an experienced manager with a traditional club with a lot of titles in the last 20 years,” City coach Pep Guardiola told BBC radio. “They are starting to build something new from now on.”
(With inputs from Agencies)