Kevin de Bruyne scored a stunning goal as Manchester City beat Chelsea 1-0 to move 13 points clear of their nearest rivals and tighten their grip on the Premier League title race. The Belgian’s second half goal was enough to complete City’ double over Chelsea after the blues put in a dominant display over the second-placed title rivals.
City went into the match on the back of a 12-match winning run in the Premier League which had seen them replace their opponents at the top of the table. Since then, the blues have accelerated away from the chasing pack, who have struggled to keep pace.
Questions had been asked of de Bruyne, who had not looked at his best since contracting Covid-19 and spending some time on the sidelines. But the midfielder rose to the occasion on Saturday lunchtime to once again score the winner against his former club to put the blues firmly in command at the top of the table.
When the fixtures were announced back in July, the focus was immediately set on January and City’s meetings with the capital’s top two clubs. But, after scoring a last-minute winner at Arsenal on New Year’s Day, the blues came through their second test with much more composure.
When these two met back in September, City dominated from the start and deservedly brought all three points back to Manchester, and it was no different at the Etihad. Despite Chelsea fans singing about the Champions League final and waving tinfoil and inflatable trophies, the blues were more determined than ever to silence the crowd and put Chelsea to the sword.
In a half of few chances, the blues best opportunity fell to Jack Grealish. With the Chelsea defence under pressure, the ball fell to Grealish and the former Villa man was through on goal, but saw his shot deflected wide by the keeper. It was the closest any team had come to scoring. The blues were enjoying freedom on the wings, but the killer pass was either always cut out or just beyond the attacker as the visitors brought their biggest bus to park in front of goal.
The second half carried much the same theme; however, Chelsea did have a chance to open the scoring. Romelu Lukaku, who in the past has been accused of going missing in big games, found himself free, but his attempted shot was parried away brilliantly by Ederson. It would prove to by Chelsea’s only shot on target, and the blues were fortunate the keeper was alert to the danger.
The visitors enjoyed spells of possession, but couldn’t make more of it, which suited City nicely, and the breakthrough came in the 70th minute. Joao Cancelo found de Bruyne, and he Belgian ran at the Chelsea defence, before unleashing a curling effort that flew past the despairing dive of Kepa and into the goal to give City the lead.
City continued to press and Kepa denied Grealish a goal when the midfielder tried to fire the ball into the roof of the goal from a difficult angle. The expected onslaught to City’s goal from the visitors in the dying stages never arrived, and the blues closed the game out comfortably to record their 18th win in 22 league matches.
Final Score: Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea