Benitez draws first match, Defoe grabs brace
© Getty Images

Rafael Benitez began his tenure as manager of Chelsea with a 0-0 draw at home to Manchester City

The game itself was forgettable and saw City squander the opportunity to recover first place in the table from Manchester United, who beat Queens Park Rangers 3-1 on Saturday.

The defending champions now trail United by a point, with Chelsea four points further back in fourth place and without a win in five games.

Benitez recalled Fernando Torres, his former protege at Liverpool, and kept faith with the attacking trident of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata deployed by Di Matteo.

While Benitez had to endure a hostile reception, Chelsea's fans reserved a respectful tribute for their late manager Dave Sexton prior to kick-off, with a minute's applause observed to mark his passing on Saturday at the age of 82.

It was the visitors who created the clearest chances of the first half, with David Silva heading over a cross from Pablo Zabaleta, who also obliged Petr Cech to save with his legs.

Torres and Ashley Cole both shot over for Chelsea in the second half, while City left-back Aleksandar Kolarov headed straight at Cech in injury time.

Jermain Defoe broke the deadlock just before half-time with a superb individual effort, while the irrepressible Gareth Bale got on the scoresheet in the 58th minute before Defoe tapped home a second.

On-loan Liverpool striker Andy Carroll replied for the visitors in the 82nd minute to claim his first goal of the campaign.

Newcastle United coach Alan Pardew's return to former club Southampton ended in defeat as the Saints won 2-0 to record a second consecutive victory and move out of the relegation zone.

Record signing Gaston Ramirez set up captain Adam Lallana in the 34th minute and then got on the score-sheet himself on the hour to condemn Newcastle to a third straight league defeat.