City picked a very physical midfield to get a grip on the game, and as a result both sides struggled to create chances, mostly creating through opposition mistakes. None was more important than Torres' winner after a horrendous defensive mistake from the visitors.
City's very physical midfield had the predictable effect on the game -- the visitors enjoyed the majority of possession but struggled to do much with it, while the hosts looked more dangerous on the counter-attack.
Joe Hart. He badly spooning his effort over the bar on that play.had two gilt-edged chances as looked dangerous on the counter, the first failing to get anything on an excellent Ramires cross that was begging for a diving header or close-range volley, and second beating the offside trap to find himself one-on-one with
Although his finishing was lacking, Torres did soon turn provider, getting past Gael Clichy down the right channel to send in a scything ball for Andre Schurrle to score an easy tap-in after the German took full advantage of Martin Demichelis' complete lapse in concentration. Torres continued to be active up front, and hit the bar with an effort from the edge of the area shortly afterwards.
A rather dull first half was brought to a close thereafter, but the second was only a couple of minutes old when things turned. Samir Nasri was allowed too much space between defence and midfield to pick up the ball before sliding a pass in to the Argentinian, who took advantage of Gary Cahill's poor positioning to break the offside trap and burst wide. It was still a difficult position for Aguero, but the striker unleashed a ferocious effort with his left foot that flew past Petr Cech at his near post to level the scoreline.
Chelsea were later denied claims by Eden Hazard for a penalty after he went down under some physical attention from Pablo Zabaleta, although referee Howard Webb chose to award neither a penalty or a yellow card to the Belgian.
David Silva was next to go close, bursting through for , but the playmaker's drilled effort was well-saved by Cech at his near post.
Neither side looked likely to put on too much late pressure, until disaster struck for City. Willian launched a hopeful ball in the direction of Torres, but the Spaniard had, typically, not made a run. Yet Matija Nastasic allowed the ball to bounce, before an insane loss of bearings caused him to attempt a defensive header back to Joe Hart, somehow failing to spot that the England goalkeeper had come to claim the ball. That set Torres bearing down on an empty net, and Demichelis proved too slow to prevent what was, even for the former Liverpool man, a certain outcome.
In a game where both sides were low on quality and cohesion, it was perhaps a fitting goal to settle the game by, although Manchester City will perhaps feel annoyed to have gained nothing from the game. In truth, Manuel Pellegrini's defensive lineup led to an inability to create chances despite having the better of the game otherwise. But a fortunate win for Chelsea will not disguise the obvious shortcomings in these two sides, which were both on display this evening.
Chelsea starting lineup: Petr Cech; Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Ashley Cole; Ramires, Frank Lampard (John Obi Mikel - 66'); Eden Hazard, Oscar, Andre Schurrle (Willian - 66'); Fernando Torres.
Manchester City starting lineup: Joe Hart; Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Matija Nastasic, Gael Clichy; Javi Garcia (Aleksandr Kolarov - 80'), Fernandinho; Samir Nasri (Jesus Navas - 70'), Yaya Toure, David Silva; Sergio Aguero.