By Ayeotan Shola
Sergio Aguero’s exquisite solo strike and late goals by Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho earned Manchester City a 3-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday in the first heavyweight showdown in the Premier League, compounding the champions’ early-season problems.
Aguero made amends for a slew of early misses by exchanging passes with Yaya Toure, twisting inside his marker and placing a pinpoint shot inside the far post in the 32nd minute.
Such was City’s dominance and attacking threat in the first half that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho substituted captain John Terry at halftime to shake up his team.
A hungry-looking City kept the initiative, though. Kompany headed in David Silva’s corner in the 79th and Fernandinho drove in a third six minutes later for a victory that could have a big psychological effect in the title race, even as early as the second round of fixtures.
Chelsea was a shadow of the side that won the title at a canter last season, finishing eight points ahead of second-place City. The champions now have one point from two games, after drawing 2-2 at home to Swansea in its opener, having previously lost to Arsenal in the Community Shield.
Mourinho, meanwhile, has found himself embroiled in a spat with members of his medical staff, leading to the first-team doctor and head physiotherapist being dropped from match-day duties against City.
Things are looking much rosier for a rejuvenated City, which has won its first two matches 3-0.
Like against West Bromwich Albion on Monday, City’s players displayed the hunger and aggression they often lacked last season, with Chelsea unable to cope with the power of Toure in midfield and the movement of Aguero up front.
Aguero, back in the starting team after being on the bench against West Brom, was often unplayable and was denied three times by stand-in goalkeeper Asmir Begovic in the opening 20 minutes before finally putting City ahead.
The goal was a thing of a beauty, as Aguero wriggled free in a tight area and made Gary Cahill and Terry look like statues. Last season’s top scorer in the Premier League is up and running.
If the goal came out of nothing, it had certainly been coming on the run of play. And it could have been 2-0 before halftime with Raheem Sterling shooting over and Eliaquim Mangala glancing a header wide from a free kick with the goal gaping.
Such was Mourinho’s concern that he took off Terry at halftime — the first time that has happened in 177 matches as Chelsea manager. Terry played every minute of last season’s title-winning campaign.
Chelsea remained lethargic, however, and only had its first shot on target in the 70th.
Kompany’s header — for his second goal of the season — ended Chelsea’s realistic hopes of a comeback and Fernandinho extended the party atmosphere inside Etihad Stadium with his well-struck goal after the visiting defence failed to clear its lines.
Manuel Pellegrini, City’s usually reserved manager, punched the air with delight at the final whistle.