Chelsea 4-4 Man City: Cole Palmer dealt a last-minute blow to his former club as a penalty during injury time earned a point, keeping the champions three points ahead in an exhilarating clash, with Erling Haaland finding the net twice.
The pressure was intense, the weather was bad, and then the goalkeeper, who had recently been a teammate, went the right way. But for Chelsea’s Cole Palmer, it didn’t matter. His penalty kick in the 95th minute at Stamford Bridge felt so pure and so true that there was no chance of stopping it.
And thus, a notable short story of a 21-year-old midfielder was added. It was a crucial point for his new club – another big result against a significant rival within a week – but it was more than that.
Palmer was a City player until the end of the summer. And then, quite suddenly, he sold himself to Chelsea, where he not only established himself as the London club’s best player but also as someone England manager Gareth Southgate is talking about. Perhaps no young player has suddenly blossomed with such vitality.
Last Friday, when asked about it, City manager Pep Guardiola seemed a bit irritated about the whole issue. He claimed that he had promised to give Palmer playing time this season.
However, after seeing Palmer make his mark in the entire game, what Guardiola will feel is undoubtedly a heap of genuine regret, but perhaps, when all this fades away, there might be a hint of pride as well.
Finally, Palmer is one of City’s own. A Mancunian, he has been with the club since the age of six. When they take flight, is it not too much to wish them luck?
Here, Palmer played a captivating and sometimes quite beautiful role in the most poignant game of his youth career. After all, this was just the ninth start in the Premier League for him, six for Chelsea and three for City. It was a game that turned like a pawn left on the riverbank, always flipping and being a flop.
City really needed to win it – they took the lead three times – but Palmer only added a sense of wonder, not attachment. It says a lot for the competitiveness at the top level of the Premier League, and perhaps we should all be pleased with it.
Chelsea manager Maurizio Pochettino ended the afternoon shouting in front of the fourth official Craig Pawson. It’s not clear what emotion of authority it is that gives our managers the confidence to behave like this, but it needs to change. Pochettino behaved like a job and it was a terrible way to end the day.
However, in the context of football, Argentina will learn a lot from this. More than anything, it will not be surprising to him that he saw what Palmer did for him.