London: Chelsea and Manchester City fought out a goalless draw in their English Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez was roundly booed by his own supporters who have not forgotten that he guided Liverpool to a bitterly-fought Champions League semi-final victory over the Blues in 2005.
Their anger might have been abated had Benitez been able to revive the fortunes of shot-shy striker Fermando Torres, who once again failed in impress in front of goal.
Manchester City remain the only unbeaten side in the Premier League but will leave west London aware they could have seized all three points with a little more composure and ambition.
Read on to find out how all the action unfolded at Stamford Bridge:
1825 GMT: Mancini quickly dismisses suggestions that his side have dropped two points, by saying that “Chelsea is a tough place to play.” Hmmmm.
1819 GMT: Benitez tries his hardest to put a positive spin on a toothless display by his side: ”It is positive to see the team working so hard as a team, but we must better attack better and be better in possession.
“The positive thing is that we improved in defence but our full-backs were high when we attacked. It is not easy, but I think maybe it was a seven,” he adds.
Not sure how many Chelsea fans will agree with his assessment.
1759 GMT: Mancini will be happy that his side maintain their unbeaten record, but he might rue not chasing the match as the goalless draw leaves them rooted behind their bitter rivals Manchester United, who moved top of the league with a 3-1 win over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.
Chelsea remain fourth (and in reach of the top two) but Benitez might be questioning the wisdom of taking over at Stamford Bridge, after he was roundly booed by the home fans.
17 54 GMT:Not really sure how many positives Benitez can take from this match: the fans are still against him; Torres still looks short of confidence and form and Chelsea look very vulnerable whenever Luiz charges upfield and then loses possession..
FULL TIME: The ref blow his whistle to end a really disappointing contest.
90 + 2mins: YELLOW CARD. Balotelli screams for a free-kick after colliding with Luiz on the edge of the area, but instead the referee books him for diving.
90 mins: There will be two minutes of extra time.
88 mins:Chelsea have to careful they don’t leave too many gaps at the back as Luiz charges forward looking for the winning goal.
86 mins: Jeers from the Chelsea fans as Mancini makes his final change as Balotelli comes on for Aguerro.
85 mins: Great chance for Chelsea as Cole lets fly from the edge of the area, but his fierce shot scrapes the top of the bar.
84 mins: Chelsea fans think they have won penalty as Torres crumbles under the weight of a meek challenge from Zabaleta, but the referee is having none of it and waves play on..
81 mins: Fantastic save by Cech as he dives low to his right to palm away a deflected shot by Milner
80 mins: Benitez tries to shake things up and sends on Romeu for the ineffective Mikel
77 mins: YELLOW CARD. Kolorov is booked after he upends Moses before he can launch a counter-attack..
76 mins: Whistles rein down from the stands as Luiz charges into the City half before walloping the ball straight to Hart. Poor play from the Brazilian..
74 mins: City turn the screw and win two quick corners, but the sloppy set-pieces fail to trouble Cech.
71 mins: Benitez makes his first change and brings on Moses for Hazard: replacing trickery with straight-line speed. Will it work?
69 mins: Mancini has clearly lost his patience with Dzeko, and hauls him off for Tevez.
66 mins: City break with numbers on the Chelsea goal, but Dzeko over-hits a cross and Cole calmly clears the danger.
64 mins: YELLOW CARD. Zabalate smashes into the side of Ivanovic as the defender bears down on goal.
61 mins: Lovely one-two between Hazard and Mata creates a yawning gap in the heart of the City defence…Torres drifts into the space but can only blast his shot over the bar.
Is Torres springing into life, or has Benitez taken the shackles off his side?
59 mins: Toure hits a blistering shot from the edge of the area but it is straight at Cech…the goalie coughs the ball up before snatching it at a second attempt.
58 mins: Mancini looks like he might make his first change as he asks Tevez to warm-up on the sideline.
56 mins: Barry heads a high ball into the path of the fast-galloping Toure who narrowly fails to find Aguero with a slide-rule pass. Great play by City.
54 mins: Chelsea have really burst into life in the last few minutes, and Ramirez hits a screamer from 30-yards that whistled over the crossbar. Hart was well beaten with that strike.
50 mins: Kompany to the rescue for City…Oscar baffles the City rearguard with a delicious cross to the fast-charging Cole on the edge of the area.
The England defender whacks a cross-shot into the six-yard box but Kompany sticks his leg out to direct the ball for a corner.
47 mins: The crowd has gone quiet as there are no early indications that the second half will be any improvement on the first, even the anti-Benitez rabble have gone silent…
1702 GMT: City get the second half under way
1658 GMT: Chelsea have tried to funnel all of their attacks through Torres but Kompany has been able to intercept most of the intended through balls.
The Belgium star seems too strong and quick for Torres, whose confidence has dipped after he failed to stamp his mark i the first few minutes of the match.
Should Benitez substitute Torres, and what weffect will that have on his already brittle confidence?
1650 GMT: Chelsea didn’t show much of a creative spark in that first-half which will trouble Benitez. He might be thinking of making a quick substitution but who should he bring on?
Mancini (judging from his pre-match comments) will be happy to escape with a point, but a little more impetus and his side could claim all three.
It says a lot when the game’s most note-worthy event was the home crowd booing their own manager…
45 + 1 mins: Referee blows his whistle and the players head back to the changing rooms.
Boos cascade from the stands, but no-one is sure if they are directed at Benitez or the team’s dismal display…
45 mins: The fourth official signals there will a minute of added time….
43 mins: Torres finally gets a sniff of goal but gets all tangled up and mis-hits the ball with his shin…Poor play from Torres.
42 mins: Huge sighs of relief from the Chelsea fans as Aguerro finds himself with plenty of space in the Chelsea penalty area but loses all poise and can only push his tame header straight at Cech.
Either side of the goalie and it would have broken the deadlock, which is exactly what this game needs….
40 mins: Chelsea finally muster a shot on goal!
The Blues win a free-kick just inside the City half, and Luiz decides to take a shot from 40-yards.
It wasn’t going to trouble Hart but at least it will pad out their shots-on-goal stats.
37 mins: Cech is forced to make the first save of the match as he has to go low to his right to stop a shot by Dzeko.
35 mins: Its cold and its wet, and both teams seem content to head into the dressing room as neither side is offering much of a threat.
29 mins: City look very solid as Milner and Barry are snuffing out most of the tame Chelsea attacks on goal.
Barry tries to launch a quick counter-attack but Luiz steps in front of Aguerro to end the threat.
27 mins: Nice interchange of passes between Oscar and Mata but the attack fizzles out with an mis-hit pass by the Spaniard.
That move will have pleased Benitez as Chelsea are finally starting to show some attacking intent to their play.
25 mins: City have enjoyed most of the possession and Benitez must be concerned that his expensively-assembled quartet of Torres, Mata, Oscar and Hazard (combined transfer fee: £130 million) have failed to force Hart into a save.
23 mins: Is Benitez getting anxious? He storms out of his dug-out and screams instructions for his players to get further forward, but another attack breaks down as Torres loses possession…
20 mins: City nearly take the lead as Silva (the smallest player on the pitch) meets a wicked cross from Zabaleta but cannot direct his header under the bar…Great play from City.
18 mins: Neither side has crafted any clear-cut chances, but Kompany is marshalling the City rearguard with aplomb and thumps the ball clear as Oscar threatens to shoot.
16 mins: You know the game has fizzed into life when the broadcaster keeps showing the Chelsea fans give an ovation to Di Matteo
14 mins: Toure is lucky to escape without a booking for hurling down Hazard.
The Belgium star had shaken clear of his marker and had his sights on goal before Toure’s cynical intervention..
10 mins: Torres finally gets into the game, but not the way he would have wanted, as he gives away a afree-kick for a rash challenge on Zabaleta
7 mins: Benitez is now the ninth manager during Roman Abramovich’s time at Stamford Bridge, but he might be the most unpopular hire after his constant spats with former Blues manager Jose Mourinho.
The Chelsea faithful keep up the pro-DiMatteo chants as both sides seem content to keep possession without offering much of an attacking threat.
Benitez might feel this is an away fixture the amount of vitriol heading his way from the home supporters.
4 mins: Cole has to be alert as Aguerro races onto a beautifully weighted pass from Silva and is shaping up to shoot before the left back charges across his penalty area to swipe the ball out of play.
2 mins: First break in play as Barry clatters into Ramirez, that looked painful…
1 min: Benitez sits comfortably in his seat as Chelsea fans unfurl a large banner reading ‘There is only one Di Matteo’.
KICK-OFF: Chelsea wearing their traditional blue strip get the match started, and immediately play the ball back to Cech…a sign of things to come?
1553 GMT: A sign of nerves, from Mancini?
“Today is more difficult because, when a team changes their manager, the first game against them is always hard – but we want to do well,” he says.
1550 GMT: Benitez defends his decision to recall Torres.
“I said before he was working very hard. I think he is ready to perform well,” he says in the tunnel before the match.
1548 GMT: The Spanish striker scored 56 goals in 79 games under Benitez at Liverpool.
However, since joining Chelsea for £50 million in January 2011, he has only scored 18 times in 85 appearances.
1547 GMT: Torres returns to the Chelsea starting line-up after he was dropped for the 3-0 defeat to Juventus.
City meanwhile include Kompany after the Belgium defender passed a late fitness test. Mancini also drafts Barry and Milner into his side as he looks to dominate possession and blunt the trickery of Chelsea’s midfield trio of Mata, Oscar and Hazard.
1546 GMT: Here are the teams: -
Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole, Ramires, Mikel, Mata, Oscar, Hazard, Torres.
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Kolarov, Yaya Toure, Barry, Silva, Milner, Dzeko, Aguero
WELCOME TO AFP’S LIVE REPORT on the English Premier League clash between title challengers Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
The match is due to kick off in west London at 4pm local time (1600 GMT) so stay with us for all the action as it unfolds.
Chelsea’s new interim manager Rafa Benitez is facing a baptism of fire against Roberto Mancini’s high-flying side, who have yet to lose a league match this season.
The Blues will be looking to impress their new manager after slipping to disappointing losses to West Brom and Juventus.
Benitez’s has three immediate tasks on his to-do list: to win over a sceptical fanbase; coax the best out of mis-firing striker Fernando Torres and tighten up a shaky rearguard that is missing talismanic captain John Terry.
Mancini will be trying to forget his side’s Champions League exit and has praised City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak for his patience, in a week that saw Roberto Di Matteo fired six months after masterminding Chelsea’s Champions League triumph.