Cole Palmer netted a stoppage-time penalty against his former club Manchester City to rescue a point for Chelsea in a pulsating, eight-goal Premier League classic at Stamford Bridge.
Palmer, who swapped his boyhood club for Chelsea in the summer, held his nerve to beat Ederson as Mauricio Pochettino’s side came from behind for a third time in a breathless game.
Manchester City had appeared on course to move three points clear after Rodri’s deflected strike put them 4-3 up in the 86th minute, but Palmer’s penalty, awarded after Ruben Dias had fouled substitute Armando Broja, provided one final twist.
Earlier, the game had erupted when Erling Haaland struck the opening goal, also from the spot, after Marc Cucurella was controversially found to have fouled the Norwegian following a lengthy VAR check.
The sense of injustice fuelled a ferocious Chelsea response as goals from Thiago Silva and Raheem Sterling, the latter also playing against his former club, put them ahead before Manuel Akanji’s header brought City level again shortly before half-time.
Haaland slid home his second and City’s third straight after the restart and a thrilling game continued to ebb and flow, with Jackson tucking home a loose ball for Chelsea’s third goal before the two sides traded blows once more, first through Rodri and then through Palmer, to round off a sensational spectacle.
The draw means City are only one point clear of Arsenal and Liverpool at the top of the table while Chelsea, only five days on from playing out another classic against Tottenham, move up a place to 10th, albeit with hope of bigger things to come.
Chelsea: Sanchez (7), James (8), Disasi (6), Silva (7), Cucurella (5), Fernandez (7), Caicedo (7), Gallagher (8), Sterling (8), Palmer (8), Jackson (8).
Subs: Mudryk (6), Gusto (6), Broja (7), Ugochukwu (n/a).
Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (6), Akanji (7), Dias (5), Gvardiol (5), Rodri (8), Bernardo (6), Doku (6), Foden (8), Alvarez (7), Haaland (8).
Subs: Grealish (6), Kovacic (6).
Player of the match: Cole Palmer
How the epic encounter played out
Chelsea came into the game having not beaten – or even scored a goal against – Manchester City in six attempts but their determination to change the record was clear from the outset.
Pochettino had said his side were no underdogs and that message had clearly got through to his players, whose intensity and aggression seemed to surprise City, with Palmer seeing an early shot blocked and Conor Gallagher firing straight at Ederson.
- Chelsea: Marc Cucurella came into the side in place of the absent Levi Colwill while Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer started against their former club.
- Man City: Jeremy Doku returned to the starting line-up while Manuel Akanji came in for the injured John Stones in defence.
City carried a threat of their own, however, with Josko Gvardiol heading too close to Robert Sanchez from a corner and Julian Alvarez seeing an angled shot charged down by Cucurella, who was then penalised for City’s spot kick only minutes later.
The VAR check was a lengthy one and the outcome was contentious as the officials sided with Anthony Taylor’s decision, upholding the penalty despite Haaland and Cucurella handling each other.
The fury inside Stamford Bridge helped to fuel Chelsea’s response as Palmer blocked off Haaland’s run from Gallagher’s corner, allowing Thiago Silva to send a glancing header into the far corner.
Chelsea continued to fly forward and their second goal arrived only eight minutes later, when Gvardiol’s error allowed James to pick out Sterling for a trademark far-post finish.
Stamford Bridge was a cauldron of noise at that point but City swiftly regained the momentum, with Haaland firing into the side netting from close range and Foden then smashing a diagonal shot inches wide before Chelsea switched off for City’s second.
Bernardo Silva was the creator, his cross finding Akanji in yards of space – between two Chelsea defenders – to nod home his third goal in as many games, prompting a furious reaction from Pochettino.
It went from bad to worse for the hosts straight after half-time when Cucurella got caught out at left-back, allowing Julian Alvarez to slide the ball across goal for Haaland to bundle it over the line ahead of the otherwise excellent Reece James.
That goal felt like a sucker-punch for Chelsea but they rallied again, this time through Jackson, as the striker reacted sharply to tuck home the loose ball after Ederson could only parry Gallagher’s long-range effort back into the danger area.
That goal came after a brilliant solo effort from the excellent Palmer, who was determined to impress against his former club, and there was a glorious chance for Malo Gusto too, the substitute blazing over when played in by Sterling on the right.
It seemed the full-back’s miss would prove costly when Rodri’s long-range effort bounced in off Thiago Silva for City’s fourth goal, but somehow Chelsea fought back again, Palmer’s penalty, dispatched nervelessly, clinching a deserved point.
Sterling, Palmer: We were unlucky
Chelsea’s former Manchester City duo Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer felt the Blues were unfortunate not to take all three points.
Sterling told Sky Sports: “It was a good game, we wanted to win the game and continue the win we got last week. We fought, went behind and came back, that shows the mentality of the team.
“There have been some setbacks, even after some disappointing results we are making those steps little by little.
“I had a great time at City, people know what I can do. It’s just go out there and perform. The building block the team is doing, I’m proud to be part of it.
Palmer told Sky Sports: “[It’s the] very straight first time I played against City. I have great respect for the club I spent 15 years at. Great to see some friends, we were unlucky to get the win.
“I have many City fans at home, but it’s the game.”
On his penalty, he added: “It was a long time waiting, but I felt confident. I’ve had a few now, I kept focused in the 90-something minute. I won’t say I work on penalties, I don’t. I just trusted in my ability.
“I was excited to see the game, we went behind a few times and bounced back.”
Carra: Poch delivering in big games
This Chelsea performance followed similarly encouraging displays against Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham and Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher feels their big-game improvement is down to Mauricio Pochettino.
“I think it shows how good City are,” he said. Because I don’t think City were anywhere near their best and Chelsea were fantastic but it still finished 4-4. That shows the gulf between both teams.
“But what Pochettino has done in big games is fantastic. You can see him as a manager going up against Klopp, Guardiola, Arteta and he hasn’t quite got the tools they’ve got. I know people will say they’ve spent a lot of money. It’s still short of what the top teams have got. But what they’ve done in big games is a feather in the cap of the manager.”
He added: “It’s the Premier League at its best. You think about the game we watched last Monday and it felt like everybody was talking about that for days afterwards. I think this will be the same.
“It felt right Chelsea got the equaliser. I know Manchester City fans will be disappointed but it felt like there shouldn’t be a winner in that game. It was that good.”
Crazy game in numbers – Opta stats
- In his 882nd game as a manager across all competitions, this was the first time that Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola saw his side both score and concede 4+ in the same match.
- This was only the fifth match in Premier League history to see as many as four equalising goals scored, after Everton v Leeds in October 1999, Charlton v West Ham in November 2001, Tottenham v Reading in December 2007, and Liverpool v Arsenal in April 2009.
- This was the first time Chelsea both scored and conceded 4+ goals in a league game since March 2008 v Tottenham (4-4), the first time Man City did so since January 1961 v Arsenal (4-5).
- Rodri scored his third Premier League goal of the season, surpassing his tally last term in the competition (2). Nine of his 17 Premier League goals have given Man City the lead in a game.
- Chelsea’s Thiago Silva became only the fourth different player to score a Premier League goal while aged 39 or older, along with Teddy Sheringham, Dean Windass, and Ryan Giggs.
After the international break, Chelsea travel to Newcastle on Saturday November 25; kick-off 3pm.
Meanwhile, Man City are back in action on Saturday November 25 when they host Liverpool, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 12.30pm.