A brace from Sergio Aguero condemned the Blues to defeat in our first competitive game of the 2018/19 campaign.
The striker scored 13 minutes into each half with typically clinical finishes, and there was no way back against a dominant City side. Callum Hudson-Odoi forced an uncomfortable save from Claudio Bravo with our best effort of the game, and though we did enjoy some spells of pressure on a baking hot afternoon, we were ultimately second best against last season’s runaway champions.
Next up for Maurizio Sarri and his side is a friendly against Lyon at the Bridge on Tuesday, before the real action gets underway with a trip to Huddersfield next weekend.
There was a familiar feel to the line-up selected by Sarri, with the same XI who started our midweek friendly in Dublin again chosen by the new boss. That meant a centre-back pairing of David Luiz and Toni Rudiger, Jorginho and Ross Barkley alongside Cesc Fabregas in midfield, and Hudson-Odoi and Pedro flanking Alvaro Morata up top.
On a scorching hot Wembley day, it was the league champions who began the brighter and on 13 minutes they took the lead with the first meaningful shot in anger. Phil Foden broke from midfield and under little pressure, squared to Aguero. With no Chelsea challenge forthcoming, he had time and space to pick his spot and easily found the bottom corner from 16 yards out.
There had been no shortage of tackles flying in up to that point as both sides looked to start the season on the front foot, but the lack of pressure on first Foden and then Aguero in central areas would have disappointed Sarri.
Willy Caballero was at his best to stop City doubling their lead midway through the opening period, sensing an overload after we had lost possession and racing off his line to claim the ball before Leroy Sane could shoot.
Morata, now wearing the number 29 on his back, cut inside and shot wide before a drinks break was called in the searing heat. When play got back underway, Hudson-Odoi was next to try his luck, firing over from 20 yards. The 17-year-old’s next effort was more dangerous. Claudio Bravo unconvincingly kept it out with nobody in royal blue on hard to convert the rebound.
Chelsea finished the half looking the more threatening and displaying greater fluency in the attacking third. A comedic misjudgement from Bravo almost gifted us an equaliser in time added on, but he recovered before Morata could tap into the empty net.
Five minutes into the second half, City’s main striker did have an open goal to shoot at after Foden’s pass split our defence, but Aguero could only hit the side-netting after Caballero did excellently to force him wide and narrow the angle. Foden then shot straight at the Argentinean keeper after Aguero had returned the favour.
Shortly before the hour, Aguero doubled his and City’s tally. With Chelsea overstretched having lost the ball deep in enemy territory, the break was always on and we were duly punished as Bernardo Silva slipped Aguero in and he fired beyond Caballero.
Sarri responded with our first changes of the afternoon, Fabregas and Hudson-Odoi replaced by Danny Drinkwater and Willian, the latter playing his first game of the summer.
Pedro shot tamely wide after a burst from Willian had forced City to retreat. Riyad Mahrez suffered the same fate when he tried to mark his debut with a goal.
Caballero denied Aguero his hat-trick with a good save on 72 minutes after the striker was left unmarked from a corner. He remained the busier keeper and got down well to palm sub Brahim Diaz’s low effort to safety, before parrying Gabriel Jesus’ fierce strike away.
With time almost up, we nearly snatched a consolation after Barkley, perhaps our best outfield performer, broke down the right and squared towards sub Tammy Abraham. He and Bravo collided and Victor Moses couldn't quite force home the loose, spinning ball.
Caballero saved from Diaz in injury time and then with City trying to walk the ball in, Rudiger somehow diverted Jesus' goalbound effort wide with virtually the last touch.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Caballero; Azpilicueta (c), David Luiz, Rudiger, Alonso; Fabregas (Drinkwater 59), Jorginho, Barkley; Pedro (Moses 79), Morata (Abraham 69), Hudson-Odoi (Willian 59).
Unused subs Bulka, Christensen, Zappacosta.
Manchester City (4-3-3): Bravo; Walker, Stones (Gomes 90+5), Laporte (Otamendi 87), Mendy; Fernandinho (c), B Silva, Foden (Diaz 76); Sane (Gundogan h/t), Aguero (Kompany 80), Mahrez (Jesus 68).
Unused subs Ederson.
Scorer Aguero 13, 58
Referee Jon Moss