N’Golo Kante scored Chelsea’s goal Photo by Sean Gosling
Two lapses in concentration from Chelsea, resulting in misplaced passes were enough for Manchester City to recover from a goal down to the Londoners to snatch a vital 2-1 win at the Eithad Stadium tonight.
Both teams were evenly-matched but the homes side’s clinical opportunistic finishing was the difference.
A pulsating first half saw N’Golo Kante put Chelsea into the lead. But a Kevin De Bryune double -deflected shot and a Riyad Mahrez cross-goal effort meant that the three points stay up North with the Blues thinking about what could have been.
The game was open from the first whistle, Ex-Chelsea Kevin De Bruyne combined well with Sergio Augero to see a right-footer from the Belgium midfielder inch past Kepa’s right post after just three minutes. Willian followed suit soon after, seeing his daisy-cutter do the same.
Tammy Abraham had half a chance with a chipped effort but that was wayward.
Chelsea and City looked dangerous whenever they had the ball going forward.
Fikayo Tomori, saw his snatched left-footer from just inside the City penalty area on 14 minutes go wide of Ederson’s other post.
The first shot on target however from either side fell to the visitors on 20 minutes when a quick Willian-inspired breakaway saw Emerson drive a powerful left-footer straight into the midriff of then City goalkeeper.
Within a minute, the west Londoners took the lead - an in-perfect through ball, by Mateo Kovacic was met by in-running N’Golo Kante. The French maestro took one touch, as he entered the City area, he held off the stern challenge from Fernandinho before clipping a low, left-footer past Ederson and into the goal.
The lead lasted eight minutes as the pulsating half just kept giving. A miss-placed pass in midfielder by Jorginho saw City cut through Chelsea, but an element of luck saw De Bruyne’s drive take two slight deflection off Zouma and Tomori before drifting past Kepa.
City took the lead on 37 minutes and it was Chelsea’s doing - once again a misplaced pass saw the home side attack with laser-like authority. The ball was fed to Riyad Mahrez, who cut in from the left and hit a low shot wide of the outstretched right arm of Kepa and the ball nestled into the back of his net.
Augero smacked the crossbar just before the break after the Londoners once again gave the ball away. Thankfully this time the ball was cleared of danger.
There were no changes from either side at half-time.
Kante almost levelled the scores on 53 minutes but h9s close range shot was deflected for a corner by the boot of Fernandinho.
With Chelsea starting to loose traction in the game, head coach Frank Lampard opted to replace Emerson with Reece James on 60 minutes. James took over at right-back with Cesar Azpilicueta moving across to left-back.
Kepa produced a fine save to thwart Mahrez on 64 minutes as the hime side looked to extend their lead. Seconds earlier Azpilicueta throes his body in front of a Augero goal-bound shot.
Lampard made a double substitution when he brought in Mason Mount and Michy Batshuayi for Jorginho and Abraham with 17 minutes left.
Ederson produced a fine finger-tip,save on 80 minutes from a Willian half-volley - but referee Martin Atkinson decided otherwise and gave a goal kick.
Mount tried a late free-kick 25 yards, but while it had pace it did not have accuracy, and with the clock ticking down, Raheem Sterling took advantage of sloppy defending and slotted home.
Inexplicably VAR decided the winger was offside.
But it did not matter.
Chelsea: Kepa, Emerson, Tomori, Zouma, Azpilicueta, Willian, Kovacic, Jorginho, Pulisic, Kante, Abraham
Subs; Caballero, Christensen, Pedro, Giroud, Mount, Batshuayi, James
Man City: Ederson, Aguero , Rodrigo, Cancelo, Mendy, Stones, Silva, Sterling, Mahrez, Fernandinho, De Bruyne
Subs: Bravo, Walker, Gundogan, Jesus, Angeleno, Otamendi, Foden