Chelsea suffered a first defeat of the season at the hands of Manchester City as Gabriel Jesus’s second-half goal settled an intriguing contest at Stamford Bridge.
Despite an upturn in search of an equaliser, Thomas Tuchel’s side were unable to trouble City’s goalkeeper Ederson and finished the game without a shot on target. Our best chances were often cut out at source on a frustrating afternoon.
That mean a tactical tweak to 3-5-2 from the start, with N’Golo Kante joining Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho in central midfield. Meanwhile, Reece James was preferred at right-back, meaning captain Cesar Azpilicueta moved into the back three and Thiago Silva dropped to the bench.
City also made four changes from their most recent Premier League outing, a 0-0 draw at home to Southampton, with Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden among those back in the side.
Alert from the start
Under the grey skies of south-west London, with the thermometer still clinging to the dying embers of summertime in the capital, it was our visitors from the north-west who opened on the front foot.
Guardiola’s penchant for mixing things up saw Foden start up front, though it was down the flanks that City initially probed, forcing James, Azpilicueta and Toni Rudiger into some strong early shepherding by the touchline.
Mendy was also dominant in the box, claiming a couple of early corners swung into his area as the reigning champions of the country started quickest against the reigning champions of the continent.
Werner comes alive
It took 15 minutes before the Blues gave the home crowd reason to switch from celebratory songs of our triumph in Porto to more pressing matters of the day.
Lukaku initiated the counter-attack with powerful hold-up play on halfway, feeding the ball back to Marcos Alonso, who found Werner’s perfectly-timed run down the inside-left channel.
The German’s cross for his strike partner was inviting but, under some pressure, Lukaku couldn’t make sufficient contact to get away a shot at goal.
Nevertheless, it was a moment that sparked the home side into life and it wasn’t long before Werner took aim himself, cutting infield from the left but striking straight at Kyle Walker.
Change and chances
Just like in our last meeting in the Champions League final, a Chelsea defender was forced off early through injury, this time James proving to be the unfortunate victim of a rolled ankle.
Whereas Thiago Silva had departed that showpiece game between the two sides back in May, the Brazilian now entered the fray with half an hour on the clock, slotting into the centre of the back three.
It coincided with a quieter spell in the contest before City ended the half in the ascendancy, albeit still failing to fashion a shot on target at Mendy’s goal. That was not for a lack of trying, with Rodri’s effort headed over by Rudiger and then Jorginho twice clearing from inside his own six-yard box, before De Bruyne fired narrowly over the crossbar.
The best chance of the half fell to Gabriel Jesus four minutes before the break as the striker took the ball down with his shoulder and evaded the company of Rudiger but lashed his finish into the lower tier of the North Stand.
City break through
Another fast start from the visitors finally brought about the breakthrough as Jesus’s effort beat Mendy with the help of a deflection off Jorginho, making it the first goal from open play we had conceded in the league this season.
Jack Grealish fired a warning moments earlier, advancing inside from the left before curling narrowly wide, and it was from that side that City worked a short corner for the opener.
The ball eventually found its way to Rodri on the edge of the box and the Spaniard’s shot fell nicely for Jesus, who swivelled and fired in.
Riding the storm
The goal took the heat up a notch inside Stamford Bridge but it was Guardiola’s men most threatening in their pursuit of another goal, with Mendy down low to expertly fingertip another Grealish effort behind.
Thiago Silva was then required to make a goal-line intervention to deny Jesus a second as the visitors made inroads once again down the left.
Tuchel responded with a change, introducing Kai Havertz for more attacking support in place of Kante, and the German almost had an instant impact. Escaping in behind from a long ball forward, he teed up Lukaku to put the ball into an unguarded net but the offside flag cut short the Chelsea celebrations.
Stopped at source
The Blues stepped things up in search of an equaliser in the final 25 minutes. Alonso had a presentable opportunity with a free-kick but failed to beat the wall, while Kovacic was thwarted by an excellent block from a sliding Ruben Dias following strong hold-up play from Lukaku up against Aymeric Laporte, the other City centre-half.
Down the other end, Christensen had to be alert to snuff out the danger as Grealish and Jesus combined dangerously, while Laporte slid an effort inches wide at the back post from an inswinging free-kick but would have been denied by the offside flag had it gone in.
A grandstand finish was on the cards, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek adding energy and forward drive in midfield, but it was the home goalkeeper who made the most decisive stop late on, rushing off his line to make a save at the feet of Grealish.
It meant a first defeat of the season for Chelsea, with City winning back-to-back top-flight games at the Bridge for the first time since January 1955.
The Blues are on the road in Europe in midweek with a Champions League trip to Juventus on Wednesday evening, followed by a Saturday 3pm kick-off at home to Southampton in the Premier League to conclude action before the October international break.
Chelsea (3-5-2) Mendy; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; James (Thiago Silva 29), Kante (Havertz 60), Jorginho (Loftus-Cheek 76), Kovacic, Alonso; Lukaku, Werner
Unused subs Arrizabalaga, Chilwell, Chalobah, Saul, Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech
Booked Alonso 77; Christensen 78; Rudiger 84
Manchester City Ederson; Walker, Dias (c), Laporte, Cancelo; Rodri, Silva, De Bruyne (Mahrez 80); Jesus, Foden (Fernandinho 87), Grealish (Sterling 87)
Unused subs Steffen, Ake, Stones, Lavia, Palmer, Torres
Scorer Jesus 53
Booked Laporte 65; Dias 90+5
Referee Michael Oliver