Match Report: Manchester City 1 Chelsea 0

A stunning Kevin de Bruyne goal was the difference as Chelsea were beaten 1-0 by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

The City captain curled home the eventual winner beyond the fingertips from Kepa Arrizabalaga 20 minutes from time as Pep Guardiola’s side moved 13 points clear of the Blues in the Premier League table.

Chelsea had chances to take something from the game, with Ederson making a fine save from Romelu Lukaku and both Hakim Ziyech and Marcos Alonso later firing over, but ultimately City were too strong for Tuchel’s Blues on what was the 50th Premier League meeting between the two sides.

The Blues started the day a point ahead of third-placed Liverpool but having played more games, with Jurgen Klopp’s side looking to leapfrog up into the second when they face Brentford on Sunday.

Tuchel’s side are back in Premier League action on Tuesday when we travel to Brighton looking to quickly get back to winning ways.

The selection

Tuchel made five changes from the side that defeated Tottenham in midweek, with Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante both handed starts.

The Brazilian replaced Andreas Christensen in defence, following the Dane’s positive Covid-19 test this week, while Kante came in for Jorginho to partner Mateo Kovacic in midfield.

Marcos Alonso and Christian Pulisic were also selected, with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount dropping to the bench, while Hakim Ziyech completed the changes by starting ahead of Timo Werner.

Tuchel switched to a back five when out of possession, with Thiago Silva alongside Toni Rudiger and Malang Sarr in the centre of defence in front of Kepa Arrizabalaga, while captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Alonso lined up at right and left wing-back respectively.

Romelu Lukaku was our lone striker at the Etihad Stadium, with Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic tasked with getting into forward areas to support the Belgian.

Cagey start

Plenty of respect shown for each side was noticeable right from the off in east Manchester, with both sides getting a feel for the tempo and chances at a premium.

The first real chance of this eagerly anticipated encounter fell to Chelsea, with Lukaku outmuscling and overpowering Laporte and Stones but rather than shooting, the Belgian looked to play in Ziyech but his pass was just out of reach of the Moroccan.

Moments later, the duo tried to link up once again but this time it was Ziyech overhitting a pass. Tuchel’s emotions on the sidelines showing how much we couldn’t afford to waste possession against the league leaders.

Kepa keeps them out

Just before that, Kepa was forced into his first save of the match as he kept out a Stones header after the City defender had ghosted in around Alonso at the back to meet a deep cross.

Kepa was there again for the Blues on 23 minutes, comfortably claiming a De Bruyne shot from a tight angle. Whether the Belgian should have pulled back for Foden remains to be seen but Kepa was looking confident with each passing minute.

The Spaniard, back in the side following Edouard Mendy’s absence at the African Cup of Nations, was thwarting every City attack and made a big save five minutes before the break to keep the scores level.

De Bruyne pressured Kovacic just outside the Chelsea box and the Croatian’s loose pass was picked up by Jack Grealish, who sprinted through on goal but saw his effort tipped around the post by the legs of Kepa. A big save in a big moment of the first half.

Momentum shift

Chelsea started the second half much brighter than our hosts and had a fantastic chance to break the deadlock just two minutes in.

Kovacic played a superb ball through to Lukaku who raced onto it but saw his curling effort kept out well by Ederson, before Ziyech then lashed the rebound high over the bar.

Moments later, strong forward running from Pulisic saw him make ground before switching a pass out to Alonso but the Spaniard couldn’t keep his effort down and failed to trouble Ederson.

City swarm

After those warning signs to Pep Guardiola’s men, the Citizens responded strongly and began to swarm our box in numbers. Everything thrown at the Blues was dealt with though by Kepa and his defence, as we looked to weather the City storm.

Kepa was on hand yet again to keep City out, this time getting across his line to meet a De Bruyne free-kick that he tipped over the bar. From the resulting corner, the Spaniard made a good punch to clear any danger. Confident goalkeeping.

Raheem Sterling failed to test Kepa with around 22 minutes remaining, after the England international went up against Sarr just inside the area but dragged his effort wide of the far post.

Deadlock broken

City’s dominance was starting to show and in response, Tuchel made a double Chelsea change with 20 minutes left to play – Werner and Hudson-Odoi on for Pulisic and Ziyech – as we looked to inject some pace and fresh legs into our attacks.

However before the duo could even get a touch, City took the lead. De Bruyne travelled with the ball from midfield before bending his shot beyond Kepa and into the far corner. It was going to be something special to beat Kepa in this form an that’s exactly what the City captain produced.

The Blues responded well to going behind and almost drew level immediately. Azpilicueta met a Hudson-Odoi cross at the back and pulled back for Werner, but the German’s first-time strike was blocked by Laporte and City could clear their lines.

Final push comes to nothing

The Blues weren’t lying down though and Tuchel made an attacking change by bringing on Mason Mount for Alonso as we searched for an equaliser.

Half chances came and went for Chelsea. Azpi sent over a good low cross looking for Werner that Ederson cut out, before Hudson-Odoi got into a good area but then wasted the opportunity by overhitting his cross with Lukaku among those craving good service in the middle.

That was the way it stayed as the Blues were unable to breach Ederson’s goal and head back to London empty handed.

What’s next?

The games continue to come around quickly for the Blues, with a Tuesday night trip to the south coast to face Brighton in the Premier League next on the agenda.

The game at the Amex Stadium gets underway at 8pm UK time.

Chelsea: Kepa; Azpilicueta (c), Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Sarr, Alonso (Mount 81); Kante, Kovacic; Ziyech (Hudson-Odoi 69), Pulisic (Werner 69); Lukaku

Unused subs: Bettinelli, Barkley, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Saul, Havertz

Booked: Alonso, Kovacic

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Cancelo; Rodrigo, De Bruyne (c) (Gundogan 84); Bernardo, Sterling, Grealish; Foden (Jesus 88)

Unused subs: Steffen, Dias, Fernandinho, Mbete, McAtee, Lavia, Wilson-Esbrand

Scorer: De Bruyne (70)

Referee: Craig Pawson

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