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Cole Palmer struck a last-gasp penalty against his former club Manchester City in the fourth minute of stoppage time to snatch a sensational 4-4 draw for Chelsea at the end of a superb, battling encounter at Stamford Bridge.

The Premier League champions thought they had won it through Rodri’s goal, deflected in off the unfortunate Thiago Silva four minutes from time, but were left stunned in the dying seconds when substitute Armando Broja burst into the box and drew a foul from Ruben Dias, with Palmer dispatching his spot-kick under pressure to send home fans into raptures.

Earlier, Erling Haaland had scored to twice give City the lead, first from the penalty spot before Chelsea turned the game on its head with goals from Silva and Raheem Sterling.

Manuel Akanji headed an equaliser on the stroke of half-time before Haaland’s second made it 3-2 minutes after the restart, but still Chelsea were not done, hitting back to make it 3-3 through Nicolas Jackson.

Then came what looked the winner from Rodri, before Palmer’s late, late intervention served to hurt the side he left for west London in September.

It had all begun with a controversial penalty award for City after 21 minutes. Marc Cucurella and Haaland appeared to be engaged in an even tussle as the ball was floated in to the six-yard box but, as the pair went to ground, the defender was penalised for having hauled Haaland down.

VAR checked and found no reason to overturn referee Anthony Taylor’s decision, and after a lengthy delay Haaland kept his cool to beat Robert Sanchez from the spot.

Chelsea had made the brighter start and now they sought an instant reply. Reece James forced Ederson into an athletic fingertip save from a well-struck free-kick just outside the box.

It was to be a momentary reprieve. From the resulting corner swung in by the right foot of Conor Gallagher, Silva slipped his man and with a glancing header that zipped across the face of the goal and in he drew his side level.

City almost hit back instantly through Haaland, but Phil Foden’s cross was fractionally too deep and the striker could only turn it into the side netting. Minutes later, Foden tried to do it himself with a wicked drive with his left foot that bent inches past a post.

Chelsea’s second came from a mistake by Josko Gvardiol. Moises Caicedo collected the ball deep in midfield and moved it on to Gallagher. Overlapping on the right he found James, whose pressure caused the City defender to mis-control, leaving James to cross for the unmarked Sterling to tap it home.

Sanchez preserved his side’s lead with a sensational stop low to his left after Haaland had squeezed between Chelsea’s central defenders.

Yet he could do nothing moments before half-time to prevent Akanji levelling. From a City corner, Chelsea switched off. Foden played the ball back to Bernardo Silva near the edge of the box, and neither James nor Silva went with Akanji as he ghosted into space to head in for 2-2.

The second half was barely two minutes in when the game took another twist and it was Haaland restoring City’s lead.

Julian Alvarez began the move in midfield, releasing Foden who carried it deep into the Chelsea half before returning it to the galloping Argentinian. With the defence stretched he crossed for Haaland, who evaded the attentions of James to bundle the ball over the line.

Jeremy Doku almost increased his side’s lead after a rampaging run down the left created space for a shot. Cutting inside and striking low, his effort was well saved by Sanchez.

Palmer, established now as a pivotal figure in Pochettino’s attack, cut through the heart of City with dazzling balance and control, denied a memorable goal by Ederson.

In the 65th minute, Chelsea levelled for a second time and it was no more than a fighting performance warranted.

The ball was switched to the substitute Mykhailo Mudryk charging up the left. He worked it infield to Caicedo, who set up Gallagher to strike at goal from 25 yards. Ederson parried, but could only turn it into the path of Jackson, fresh from his hat-trick against Tottenham, who took a touch and thumped it in.

Substitute Malo Gusto blazed over the bar after getting in down the right, wasting good, battling work from Sterling who fought to work the ball through to him. It was a moment Chelsea would come to rue.

The game had seemed destined to have a winner throughout, and with four minutes to go City looked finally to have nicked it through Rodri.

His drive from outside the box as the ball broke looked to be heading wide, until a wicked deflection off the unfortunate Silva sent it spinning beyond the wrongfooted Sanchez to seemingly break Chelsea hearts.

Then when City thought they had won it came Broja’s late dart into the box, Dias’s hasty challenge, and the final word by Palmer to cap a memorable encounter in west London.

Source: SL

www.sports24ghana.com

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