Chelsea vs Manchester City. Premier League.
Report as Gabriel Jesus gives Man City important win at Premier League title rivals Chelsea. Pep Guardiola's side were dominant until the goal before an end-to-end thriller played out, as Chelsea suffered their first league defeat of the season.
Saturday 25 September 2021 18:28, UK
Gabriel Jesus struck a potentially significant blow in the Premier League title race for Manchester City, as his goal helped them defeat their Champions League final conquerors Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.
The meeting between the European and English champions, four months on from their clash on the big stage in Porto, lived up to its billing, with City at first dominant, grabbing their deserved goal when Jesus swivelled and shot into the bottom corner on 53 minutes.
It was the first goal Chelsea had conceded from open play in the league this season and it transformed the contest into a furious end-to-end battle.
Jack Grealish had a shot tipped around the post and Jesus was denied a second by Thiago Silva's goal-line clearance, before Romelu Lukaku's tap-in was ruled out for offside, Mateo Kovacic's shot was deflected wide, and Grealish was kept out again by Edouard Mendy.
After suffering three defeats in a row to Thomas Tuchel, Pep Guardiola could finally celebrate a victory over the German at the final whistle - and a result which pulls Man City level with previously unbeaten Chelsea on 13 points in the table. "From the first second to the last second we tried to play our game and it was fantastic," he said afterwards.
After their stutter against Southampton last weekend, the win and performance also adds belief to City's campaign for back-to-back titles, ahead of a week which sees them go to Paris St-Germain in the Champions League and then Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday.
As for Chelsea, who failed to land a shot on target, they will have to pick themselves up in time for a Champions League trip to Juventus in midweek, and then re-focus on their Premier League aspirations at home to Southampton next time out.
Chelsea: Mendy (8), Azpilicueta (7), Christensen (8), Rudiger (7), James (6), Kante (6), Jorginho (6), Kovacic (6), Alonso (6), Werner (6), Lukaku (6).
Subs used: Thiago Silva (7), Loftus-Cheek (6), Havertz (6)
Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (7), Dias (8), Laporte (7), Cancelo (7), De Bruyne (7), Rodri (7), Foden (7), Jesus (8), Bernardo Silva (7), Grealish (7).
Subs used: Mahrez (N/A), Fernandinho (N/A), Sterling (N/A)
Player of the match: Gabriel Jesus (Man City)
On a Saturday of showdowns, which also features Anthony Joshua's world title fight with Oleksandr Usyk and the continuing battle for the Ryder Cup, the lunchtime match-up between Premier League title challengers Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge was hotly-anticipated. And the importance of the fixture was plain to see in the intensity of the opening stages.
Amid an electric atmosphere, it was City who had the better of those early rounds, with 43 per cent of the play in the first 15 minutes in the home side's defensive third of the pitch.
Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta was forced to head over his own bar during that period but City struggled to find a way through and it was Tuchel's side who carved out the first chances, with Lukaku unable to turn in Timo Werner's cross after a counter-attack before the German had a shot deflected behind for a corner.
City soon resumed control of the ball, though, pinning Chelsea back, and the hosts' task was made harder just before the half-hour when Reece James - who had been locked in a battle with Grealish - was forced off injured from an earlier collision with his England team-mate. Thiago Silva came on, with Azpilicueta taking James' place at right wing-back.
Rodri saw a shot deflected over off Antonio Rudiger, Kevin De Bruyne blasted off target and Jesus wastefully sliced wide but still City hadn't turned their possession and territory into a telling blow by the time the final first-half whistle sounded.
Tuchel had made key half-time changes in each of Chelsea's three previous Premier League games but there was no change at the break this time and there was no change to the flow of the match, with Grealish shooting wide of the far post three minutes after the restart.
Then finally City made the breakthrough. Joao Cancelo's initial effort was blocked into Jesus' path in the box and the Brazilian swivelled and fired a bobbling shot into the bottom corner.
With Chelsea forced to take more risks, the game opened up. Grealish forced Mendy into a sharp stop and Thiago Silva had to clear a Jesus effort off the line before Kai Havertz - Chelsea's Champions League final hero who had been sent on in search of an equaliser - teed up Lukaku to finish as an offside flag was raised.
Kovacic was next to go close for the hosts, seeing his shot deflected wide, before Aymeric Laporte slid in to send an effort from a corner just off target at the back post and Grealish's one-on-one chance was snuffed out by Mendy.
In the final moments Ederson caught Havertz with a painful punch as he tried to clear a loose ball but, when play resumed, City - who have still conceded just one goal in the league this term - saw out the win. It may not be a knockout result but it felt like an important one between two sides expected to go toe-to-toe throughout this Premier League season.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel: "We were excellent in the last 20 metres of the pitch but not the other 80 metres. City were stronger, sharper, with more position. I had the feeling we lacked belief to escape in the situation. With every mistake we did we lost more confidence. We defended very well until the goal although we were too deep. There was no connection [with Lukaku] and this was a team problem, not an individual problem.
"We could not escape the pressure. It was a question of decision making and we were so unprecise. We lacked confidence to switch sides. We were not on our highest level and you cannot expect a result. We played with the mentality we had something to lose but there was nothing to lose. After the goal there was a good reaction and a bit more risk. That's the mentality you need from the start: that you take risks and accept risks. They made us underperform."
Man City boss Pep Guardiola: "From the first second to the last second we tried to play our game and it was fantastic. We played really good. Ok we've three more points and that's really good for us. Three more points gives us the awareness we can do it again. We are here and we will try to do it again.
"We've had three defeats [against Chelsea in a row] because they're so good, the manager is more than exceptional. Since Roman Abramovich took over, every year Chelsea have been exceptional. But in those three games we could not do better, that's why I can't complain and I'm so proud to get to the final of the Champions League.
"I'm proud [to now have a club record 221 wins as Man City manager]. In these 221 games I never scored one goal. I share it with all the people in the club, the players, all the staff. I can't deny how proud we are to achieve that, to be close to Les McDowall, the previous manager who achieved this record, and we try to do it more."
Chelsea go to Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday for an 8pm kick-off, while Man City are away to PSG in the same competition on Tuesday at 8pm.