An emphatic Chelsea win over Manchester City is remembered by club historian Rick Glanvill ahead of the next meeting between the sides...
Seventeen years ago, in March 2003, Chelsea were chasing the prize of a Champions League finish. Claudio Ranieri had steered his stellar squad to fourth with seven games remaining, and the season would end with the make-or-break showdown with Liverpool in May, a famous victory which sealed the Blues’ place among the elite.
The keelhauling of Kevin Keegan’s swashbuckling Manchester City a few weeks earlier, though, receives less attention than it deserves, with the personal duel between striker Eidur Gudjohnsen and Peter Schmeichel an entertaining sideshow.
Had the former United goalkeeper not been equal to the Icelander several times in the opening exchanges who knows what the final score would have been. As it was City simply had no answer to the attacking ingenuity of Gianfranco Zola, nor the authority of John Terry in defence, and eventually succumbed.
The City hull was first holed by a broadside from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, found by Zola, and then a corner won by the Italian’s impish shot led to Chelsea’s second breach. Graeme Le Saux’s cross found Terry, and it was 2-0 before the break (celebrated top).
Another corner kick forced by Chelsea’s no.25 was taken by Hasselbaink, who always arrowed the ball in, low and powerfully, in the manner he appreciated himself. Terry flicked on and Mario Stanic volleyed into the net.
Satisfied, Ranieri brought on Quique De Lucas and Carlton Cole, and the latter cleverly set Frank Lampard up for the 11th of his 147 league goals for the Blues. With Jody Morris comfortably controlling events from central midfield, this was a good day for the current coaching staff.
William Gallas sneaked in ahead of Schmeichel to have the final word, prompting Ranieri to observe afterwards, ‘I always prefer five star.’
Keegan was understandably less delighted. ‘I am angry, yeah,’ the coach admitted. ‘It looked like our season came to an end here today. I find that the biggest insult to me and my staff.’