- Daniel Gallagher-Parker
Review and Player Ratings from phenomenal Stefan Ortega performance – Manchester City 2-0 Chelsea
Manchester City qualified for the Carabao Cup round of 16 thanks to two second-half goals from Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez.
Impressive displays from Jack Grealish and Stefan Ortega inspired Pep Guardiola's side to victory – Grealish did everything apart from putting the ball in the back of the net, whilst Ortega did everything to deny the ball going into the back of the net.
A five-minute period determined the outcome of the game as Mahrez scored a beautiful free-kick, whilst his shot was parried straight at Alvarez who had an empty net to aim at to double the hosts' lead.
Despite his late heroics on the weekend, Erling Haaland did not make the starting XI. Alvarez impressed once again against Fulham, scoring with a great finish, and retained his place up top for a fourth successive game.
After an outstanding display on his full debut against Sevilla last Wednesday, Rico Lewis was handed another start. Cole Palmer was also another academy graduate to start the fixture.
The hosts, who dominated the opening quarter of an hour, got the majority of their joy down the left flank with Sergio Gomez bombing forward from left back. City's number 21 played it across goal, which caused problems for Kalidou Koulibaly, who deflected it out for a corner.
The away side attempted to press the Blues, but they were picked off with ease and City rapidly broke away on the counter attack, as Grealish played Alvarez through on goal, but his effort was deflected for a corner.
From the resulting corner, Grealish was the main man once again. The ball was cleared out to the edge of the box and the Englishman struck it near perfectly as his effort scraped the side netting.
Despite City's early dominance, it was Chelsea who had the best chance of the opening 15 minutes. Some smart play down the right concluded with what appeared to be an easy chance for Christian Pulisic.
The American tried to guide it into the bottom left corner, but Rico Lewis' impressive block sent it towards the opposite corner of the goal, which Stefan Ortega managed to keep out with his feet.
Grealish once again caused problems as he forced Koulibaly into making a clumsy challenge on the edge of the box. The defender received a yellow card for doing so; if VAR was in use, it may have been deemed as a red card offence.
Ilkay Gundogan's effort from the free-kick was nodded just over the bar by the defending wall.
Not long after, Pulisic ran 20-30 yards with no City player attempting to tackle him before getting his edge-of-the-box effort off. Ortega, who has impressed since joining City on a free transfer in the summer, was equal once again to the Chelsea number 10's effort as he tipped it away for a corner.
Arguably City's best player in the first half, Grealish had another effort from outside the box, which troubled Edouard Mendy. The Senegalese goalkeeper had to be at full stretch to deny City's winger from breaking the deadlock.
Ortega produced a brilliant save to keep the scores level going into half-time. Lewis Hall cut inside onto his right foot, but his attempt to finish off Chelsea's counter attack was denied by the German, who made himself as big as possible.
Kalvin Phillips, who returned from shoulder surgery recovery, and Bernardo Silva entered the action in the 50th minute, replacing Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan.
This was one of Grealish's best performances in a City shirt, as he seemed to be playing without fear. City's number 10 was denied twice by Mendy in the space of 30 seconds in both corners.
Riyad Mahrez then took it upon himself to dribble through Chelsea's defence before earning himself a free-kick. The Algerian was the man to take it, and he wonderfully curled the ball into the back of the net.
Koulibaly, just simply looked like he couldn't be bothered. He was the only Chelsea man in the wall not to jump, and it proved costly as Mahrez's effort went just above the Senegalese defender.
Mahrez was involved in the second goal as well, as City took control of the game before the 60th minute. Alvarez found the winger perfectly with a cross-field pass – Mahrez proceeded to cut inside on his left foot. Mendy could only parry his shot into the path of Alvarez.
The Argentine showed great effort and determination to get himself into the box after playing the original pass, and he was rewarded for his efforts as he smashed home the tap-in from a couple of yards out.
Ortega showed why he was brought in to replace Zack Steffen and throw some fear into Ederson's starting spot. The German amazingly denied another Hall close-range effort – he quickly got across his goal and stuck a strong hand out to keep the scoreline at 2-0.
A late scramble in the 90th minute saw some more great goalkeeping from Ortega, but also his first sign of poor goalkeeping. The City man let the ball go through his hands but recovered well by saving former City man, Raheem Sterling's shot.
The ball did find its way into the back of the net after several ricochets, but it was ruled out for offside as Kai Havertz came back from off the pitch.
City eventually got themselves over the line and into the draw for the next round, which takes place Thursday night after Aston Villa face Manchester United again.
Man of the Match
Even though he somehow didn't find himself on the scoresheet, it was through no fault of his own. Grealish did absolutely everything right in the 90 minutes, and he could have had three or four if Mendy didn't produce a few fine saves.
Grealish has publicly stated that he feels he is criticised too heavily, and people focus too much on whether he ends the match with a goal or an assist. This is one display that no pundit or fan can have any complaints about.
When the £100m signing plays without fear, he is unstoppable; hopefully, he returns from the World Cup rejuvenated and ready to go.
An incredibly close contender for Man of the Match was Ortega. Considering this was only his third start as a City player, he performed tremendously. He single-handedly kept Guardiola's side in the lead, as it was just one outstanding save after another.
The German has definitely given Ederson reason to doubt his starting his position; it will be interesting to see what happens after the World Cup.
Ortega - 9
Lewis - 7.5
Dias - 7
Laporte - 7.5
Gomez - 7.5
Rodri - 7
Palmer - 7.5
Gundogan - 7
Mahrez - 9
Alvarez - 8.5
Grealish - 9
Subs: Phillips - 7, Bernardo Silva - 7, Ake - N/A
What's next for Manchester City?
The Blues only have one final game before club football takes a six-week break for the World Cup. They host Brentford at the Etihad Stadium for a fourth consecutive home game. The game kicks off at 12:30 GMT on Saturday, live on BT Sport.
Written by: @DanGP17_ Follow our Twitter account for reliable, live updates on all the latest news and everything Manchester City in real time.