FULL TIME: Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City
That’s about as comprehensive a one-goal victory as you’ll ever see. City bossed the game from the get-go, creating many a chance. It’s a credit to Chelsea’s defensive stubbornness that City required a moment of blistering brilliance from Kevin De Bruyne to make the difference. City return to the top of the table at the expense of their neighbours United. Chelsea stay in fourth, at least until tomorrow, one point behind Spurs and six shy of the Mancunian duo. A two-horse race for the title? Too early to be sure, but the signs are there.
90 min +3: Fabregas takes the corner quickly, and it’s not very good. Kante clatters into the back of Gundogan, and the pressure on City is released. And then De Bruyne is swapped for Danilo.
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90 min +2: Azpilicueta, out on the right, hoicks long. Walker is forced to head out for a corner! Late pressure from Chelsea, and City are living on their nerves!
90 min +1: There will be three added minutes. One has already elapsed without incident.
90 min: The free kick is sent long by Fabregas to Christensen, who sends a header high and wide left from ten yards. That was a real chance to claim a smash-and-grab draw!
89 min: Willian looks to pick up possession down the right. He’s upended by a ludicrous tackle from behind by Otamendi. A booking, and a free kick in a very dangerous position, just to the right of the City box!
87 min: Jesus and Bernardo Silva exchange crisp passes down the left. Silva hits long towards Sterling, lurking to the right of the Chelsea goal. Cahill is forced to head behind for a corner. Fernandinho meets the set piece with his head, but it’s a weak effort, heading for the bottom right. Courtois claims.
85 min: Gundogan comes on for Sane, City looking to see this one out in the professional manner. His first move is to send Sterling into acres down the right. Sterling loops long for Jesus, who opens his body up and sidefoots a powerful volley towards the right-hand portion of the net. Courtois is beaten, so it’s lucky that Rudiger is on hand to block. The resulting corner comes to nothing. What a move that was by City, and what a shot by Jesus. A fine, fine defensive block by Rudiger denied a picture-book goal.
83 min: Jesus takes a ball from the air and kills it with one touch. He slides a pass right for Sterling, who can’t return it with interest for the tap-in. Chelsea are beginning to take risks at the back.
81 min: City stroke it around the back in the clock-bothering style. It’s textbook game management. Chelsea buzz about in frustration.
78 min: Batshuayi crosses from the left. Delph misses his clearance, allowing Azpilicueta to pick up possession to the right of goal. But his whipped cross from the byline is confidently picked by Ederson. The keeper flings the ball out in the basketball style, coming pretty close to running out of his own box as he does so. The crowd scream for a free kick, but they’re not getting it.
77 min: Alonso romps down the left, and his low cross isn’t far away from finding Pedro in the box. Then Fabregas nearly slips Pedro clear down the middle, but the pass is a little overcooked. Chelsea have finally upped their game.
75 min: Azpilicueta sends a ball into the City box from the right. With Batshuayi lurking, Otamendi is forced to bundle the ball out for a corner. Stones deals with the set piece. Chelsea need more of this, and quickly.
73 min: The rain is coming down now. Willian lands on the sodden turf, having just taken an accidental arm from Otamendi in the face. He’ll be OK to continue, by the looks of it, but that was a sore clatter.
71 min: City are still dominating possession. Chelsea have to make a couple of changes. And so on come Pedro and Batshuayi, in place of Hazard and Bakayoko.
69 min: City did quite a lot of cavorting after that goal. They deserve to be in the lead; it came just before frustration set in, having just missed a series of chances. It was their 14th attempt on goal.
GOAL! Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City (De Bruyne 67)
It’s fair to say this had been coming. De Bruyne, perhaps frustrated at watching his team-mates blow chances with over-elaboration, keeps it basic and simple … albeit with some style. He powers down the middle of the park, drifting right to left slightly, then smacks a stunning riser into the top right! Belt! Courtois had no chance whatsoever! What a player De Bruyne is, and that really is some strike!
66 min: Room for Sterling in the Chelsea box on the right, set free by Walker. He cuts back for Silva, who must score from the penalty spot. But instead of shooting first time, he takes a touch, and his shot is eventually blocked. City come again, Sterling crossing from the right. Silva was waiting to tap home, but Jesus flicks the ball away from his own man. Chances being spurned here.
65 min: De Bruyne, deep on the right, curls low into the Chelsea box. Jesus sticks a boot out, but can’t connect 12 yards out. The ball sails through to Courtois, who claims easily.
63 min: City get back on the ball. Tap-tap-tap. Sterling makes off down the left suddenly, and nearly breaks into the box, but the ever-superb Azpilicueta sticks to his shoulder and eventually hustles him out of it.
61 min: Fabregas wrong-foots a sleepy City by shaping to shoot, then sliding a pass down the left. Hazard has the ball at his feet in the box. He shoots hard from a tight angle, and Ederson parries well. City have been in total control since the restart, but they’re beginning to allow Chelsea back into the game.
60 min: So having said that, out comes Martin Atkinson’s yellow card for the first time. It’s Fernandinho, who has severely tested the ref’s patience 60 seconds after getting a good talking-to, by clipping an in-full-flight Hazard. Free kick, 30 yards out.
59 min: Willian wants to burst off down the right wing. Fernandinho cynically barges him off the ball. Free kick, but no booking, which is fairly generous in today’s climate. Still, the ref has been even-handed with his laissez-faire decision-making tonight, so nobody really complains. The crowd don’t even bother getting irate.
56 min: Sterling dribbles in the troublesome style down the left and into the Chelsea box. He can’t get a cross or shot away. The ball breaks to Silva, whose shot isn’t up to much. It’s deflected out for a throw, and the danger is gone.
54 min: Another City attack, as Sane and Jesus chase after a ball down the inside right and into the area. Sane is lightly tapped by Alonso, and goes down wanting a penalty. Nope! They earn a corner, though, from which Sterling has time on the edge of the area to line up a shot towards the top right. He gets far too much oomph behind it. Goal kick.
52 min: Hazard and Willian try to combine down the left wing, hoping to launch a rare Chelsea attack. But Chelsea’s passes aren’t sticking. Frustration plays across their coupons.
51 min: Jesus scampers after a ball prodded down the right wing. He clatters into Christensen, and wants a penalty kick. He’s not going to get it. An honest shoulder charge, the defender easing his man off the ball.
49 min: … nothing much happens. But Chelsea struggled to keep hold of the ball in the first half, and City are immediately back on top in this second period. They’re hogging possession.
48 min: Sterling lifts a gentle pass down the right wing to send Jesus zipping towards the Chelsea area. Rudiger is forced to slide out for a corner. De Bruyne takes. Willian clears, but City are soon coming back at their hosts. Fernandinho, Silva and Sterling combine beautifully down the left, the latter reaching the byline and earning another corner. From which …
47 min: City are immediately on the front foot, Sane probing down the left and nearly breaking into the box. He earns a throw which leads to nothing. Silva has a wee look down the same flank. He’s upended by Rudiger. The free kick is tapped backwards. Finally Otamendi tries to send Sane scampering down the wing, but his pass clanks into touch.
Here we go again! No further changes. Chelsea – after being made to wait by City – set the ball rolling for the second period.
Half-time reading: To mark the 40th anniversary of Pele’s retirement. Love, love, love.
HALF TIME: Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City
This is what can happen when you get two tactical geniuses in the dugouts. It’s been interesting … but not particularly exciting. City have had the upper hand, by 309 to 130 passes, give or take. And Courtois has been the more active keeper. A fascinating second half awaits us!
45 min: Free kick for City, deep on the right. De Bruyne sends a glorious curler into the box. Azpilicueta is forced to stick out a toe and poke the ball out for a corner on the right. De Bruyne takes, and Fernandinho meets it with a crashing header, 12 yards out! It looks like it’s the opening goal, but Courtois makes a stunning reaction save, the ball heading for the bottom right at pace.
43 min: De Bruyne faffs around in the midfield, letting Bakayoko make off with the ball in the candy-from-baby style. He drives down the left, glides inside, then looks to release Azpilicueta free down the right with a crossfield pass. He’d have managed it, too, were it not from an excellent sliding interception from Delph. An uncharacteristically dozy moment from the normally outstanding De Bruyne, though. Very strange.
TOP PHOTO: De Bruyne celebrates after his sublime goal. Photograph: Victoria Haydn/(Credit too long, see caption)