Man City 2 Chelsea 0: Last year’s finalists OUT in third round as Mahrez and Alvarez score in comfortable Etihad win

    THE divorce papers are hardly being drawn up, but the honeymoon is most definitely well and truly over for Graham Potter.

    Of course there can never be too much shame in defeat at the Etihad.

    Riyad Mahrez curled home a free-kick to open the scoring

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    Riyad Mahrez curled home a free-kick to open the scoringCredit: AFP
    Mahrez celebrates after breaking the deadlock

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    Mahrez celebrates after breaking the deadlockCredit: AFP
    Julian Alvarez settled the game just before the hour mark

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    Julian Alvarez settled the game just before the hour markCredit: Getty

    After all, most visitors are sent packing with their tail between their legs.

    But when it’s a loss that makes it five domestic games without a win, against a distinctly second string City side, it does become something of a slap in the chops.

    And unfortunately for manager Potter, it’s a feeling he is becoming worryingly familiar with. 

    A toothless draw with Brentford, a caning at old club Brighton, a home loss to Arsenal.

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    Now this… and a trip to Newcastle to come in 48 hours.

    Suddenly he’s not so much looking like the new Messiah as just a very naughty boy.

    Yes, Potter can claim Chelsea had their moments last night.

    To be fair, they were always going to enjoy the odd one.

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    But the bottom line is they did nothing with them, either through wasteful finishing, or the odd flash of inspired goalkeeping.

    Yet they were few and far between. Most of the game was spent on the back foot. 

    A night of desperate defending, last ditch tackles, and the odd lunatic one thrown in as well.

    Like the stupid, headstrong lunge from Trevor Chalobah which sent Riyad Mahrez tumbling on 54 minutes, before the Algerian picked himself up to whip in the resulting free kick.

    Although Armando Broja should get an unwelcome assist, for the way he jumped sideways and actually made himself smaller in the wall.

    Not that it wasn’t a lead City didn’t deserve.

    They should already have been well ahead, probably already out of sight.

    As it is, they only had to wait another four minutes until they all but were, after the longest one-two you’ll see all season.

    Well, after a fashion at least.

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    Julian Alvarez, wide on the left wing, floated a ball to Mahrez right on the other flank.

    He cut inside and had Edouard Mendy diving low to beat out his drive, before Alvarez was lively while defenders lounged, and he swept in the rebound.

    At times City were as bright as the pre-match light show.

    And that was so impressive you half expected Pink Floyd to emerge from the tunnel, not a couple of football teams.

    Oh, and as for Pep Guardiola admitting he couldn’t blame any of his players for having half an eye on the World Cup, with Qatar now so close?

    Well Jack Grealish clearly took that as a challenge.

    Maybe it was because he was the only sure-fire Three Lion in the line-up and he relished the chance to take centre stage.

    Jack Grealish wasn't afraid to put himself about

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    Jack Grealish wasn’t afraid to put himself aboutCredit: Getty
    Grealish starred for City, with less than two weeks to go until the World Cup

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    Grealish starred for City, with less than two weeks to go until the World CupCredit: Getty

    Maybe it was just the opportunity to stick two fingers up at the James Maddison fan club, who insist the Leicester man is a better prospect.

    Whatever the reason, Grealish was a real box of tricks last night and if anyone deserved a goal, it was him.

    At least Chelsea got what they deserved though… another defeat.

    For while they may well have enjoyed a few second half moments, all City had to do by then was see it out.

    To that point Potter’s men hadn’t raised pulses beyond the odd first half breakaway.

    Like the one which ended with such a weak shot from Christian Pulisic that the deflection off defender back Rico Lewis was more of a threat to keeper Stefan Ortega, who saved with his legs.

    If Pulisic is as lethal for the USA when they face England in Qatar in a couple of weeks, that’s pretty much three points in the bank already for Gareth Southgate’s men, then.

    Ortega used his legs again when young Lewis Hall kept his cool and cut inside Lewis, the German stopper leaving his right foot trailing to block the danger.

    By the time he produced a genuine wonder stop – again to deny teenager Hall – City had more than enough breathing space and Chelsea had none.

    Although we should have come to realise by now that while most view the League Cup as a footballing trophy to scrape off the bottom of their shoe, Guardiola never has.

    Sure, he may give his second stringers a chance, but considering they’d walk into pretty much every other team in the land, they are hardly makeweights.

    That’s why City have lost only once in this competition in the past five years. 

    That’s why it will clearly take something special to beat them again this time, too.

    If only Potter had that problem…

    It was another miserable night for Graham Potter

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    It was another miserable night for Graham PotterCredit: Reuters

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