Premier League - Superb Chelsea stun Manchester City

Premier League, Etihad Stadium – Manchester City 0 Chelsea 1 (Ivanovic 32).

Manchester City slumped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Chelsea in what could be a decisive result in the Premier League title race.

Branislav Ivanovic’s sweet strike gave the Blues a deserved lead and, while they had to resist a late City surge, Jose Mourinho’s side were well worth the victory after a fine away performance.

The result means Arsenal remain top with 14 matches left, two points clear of City, who are ahead of Chelsea on goal difference.

City started well but looked shaky in defence, not least on account of Manuel Pellegrini’s decision to play defender Martin Demichelis in midfield due to an injury to Fernandinho.

It was an error from Demichelis that saw Chelsea open the scoring, the Argentine dithering to allow Eden Hazard past: Ramires’s shot was blocked, and Ivanovic rifled home the rebound in style.

Samuel Eto’o hit the post and Chelsea were well worth their lead at half-time. They were even better in the second period as Nemanja Matic and Gary Cahill both struck the woodwork.

The final quarter saw City take the game to Chelsea, but solid defending from Cahill and John Terry, and some good goalkeeping from Petr Cech, helped Chelsea to a massive win.

KEY MOMENTS

18’ – CHANCE: David Silva drags the finish wide after fine play by Yaya Toure.

27’ – SAVE: Chelsea should open the scoring with a brilliant counter-attack, but Ramires is denied by Joe Hart.

32’ – GOAL (City 0-1 Chelsea): Demichelis dithers, Hazard runs away, Ramires shoots, and Ivanovic strikes the rebound with a wonderful left-foot drive into the bottom corner.

44’ – WOODWORK: Eto’o’s low finish from an acute angle deserves a goal, but rattled the frame of the goal. Great ball by Hazard again.

46’ – BAD DECISION: Demichelis remains on the pitch despite failing in his brief as a DM.

51’ – CHANCE: Toure sends a half-volley inches wide with Cech well beaten.

52’ – WOODWORK: Again Chelsea hit the frame of the goal as Matic hits a thunderbolt off the angle of post and bar.

67’ – WOODWORK: Third time unlucky for Chelsea as Cahill rattles a header off the post.

73’ – SAVE: Cech with a fine stop from a Silva free-kick as City improve.

77’ – LUCKY ESCAPE: Matija Nastasic should see red for hauling down Oscar as he raced clean through, but the Serb is booked.

KEY STATS

City failed to score at home for the first time since 2010.

The result snapped an 11-match winning streak in the league for City, including eight in a row at home.

Chelsea have kept four clean sheets in a row away from home in the Premier League.

TALKING POINT

What on earth was Pellegrini thinking? Demichelis is barely a centre-half, let alone a specialist defensive midfielder. Sure, Fernandinho and Javi Garcia were injured, while James Milner and Jack Rodwell were not match-sharp, but surely he’d have been better off putting Toure deeper? And Milner at 75% is still pretty mobile.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND RATINGS

MAN OF THE MATCH

Gary Cahill (Chelsea): A tough one as Chelsea were excellent throughout, but Cahill was imperious at the back and hit the post with a header. Made Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko look ordinary, and responsible for a vital late header that defied biology.

PLAYER RATINGS

Manchester City: Hart 6, Zabaleta 5, Kompany 6, Nastasic 5, Kolarov 5, Navas 5, Demichelis 4, Toure 6, Silva 6, Dzeko 5, Negredo 5. Subs: Jovetic 7

Chelsea: Cech 7, Ivanovic 8, Cahill 8, Terry 7, Azpilicueta 7, David Luiz 7, Matic 8, Ramires 6, Willian 7, Hazard 8, Eto'o 6. Subs: Oscar 6, Mikel NA, Ba NA

MATCH IN A TWEET