Ancelotti lays down title challenge

21 March 2011 07:30

Carlo Ancelotti has challenged his Chelsea players to complete one of the great title comebacks in Barclays Premier League history after watching them keep their faint hopes of retaining their crown by beating Manchester City.

The champions left it late before sealing a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge which lifted them above their opponents into third place and moved them back within nine points of Manchester United with a game in hand.

"We have nine games to play and we have to do our best," said Ancelotti. "We have to try to win every game. Now there'll be an international break. When the players come back, I'd like to see the same spirit and attitude."

For 77 minutes, Chelsea were in real danger of dropping out of the title race as they struggled to break down a stubborn City side. But David Luiz capped another virtuoso display by earning and scoring from a Didier Drogba free-kick before fellow Brazil star and former Benfica team-mate Ramires wrapped up the points.

"Luiz and Ramires, fantastic performances and fantastic goals," said Ancelotti. "Ramires, in particular. He's improving very well.

"Luiz's goal was a surprise. Defensively, he worked with fantastic tempo for a long time and his performance was really good."

Defeat all but killed off City's own slim title aspirations and also cast doubt on their top-four credentials.

"If we had won or drawn, probably it would have been fantastic but now nothing changes and in this moment we have eight games until the end," said manager Roberto Mancini.

The visitors' hopes of getting a result today were hurt by Carlos Tevez failing a late fitness test on a groin injury. The Argentina striker has been the scourge of Chelsea since joining City.

"Tevez is a good player but also (Edin) Dzeko and (Mario) Balotelli are good players," said Mancini, who dropped the latter to the bench following the moment of madness that saw the forward sent off on Thursday.

Source: PA