Chelsea Saturday afternoon pulled away from the chasing pack in the English Premier League, creating a four point lead on the table after beating Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
For the second consecutive week Antonio Conte’s side came from behind to maintain a winning run, the Blues scoring three second-half goals to secure a wonderful 3-1 victory at the Etihad.
Diego Costa, Willian and Eden Hazard were the scorers as they produced a brilliant counter-attacking display to extend our lead at the top of the table.
A Gary Cahill own-goal had given the hosts the advantage right on the stroke of half-time.
But Chelsea showed tremendous character to turn the game around and record an eighth consecutive Premier League win.
The home side’s misery was compounded when Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho were both sent off right at the death after the striker’s foul on David Luiz sent tempers soaring.
Nemanja Matic missed the game with a small muscle injury and was replaced by Cesc Fabregas, the only change to the side which had started Chelsea previous six games in succession.
The incoming Spaniard partnered N’Golo Kante in the middle of the park, with Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso operating as wing-backs once again.
Further forward, Player of the Month nominees Pedro and Diego Costa both started for the Blues.
A minute’s silence was held prior to kick off as a mark of respect to those who lost their lives in the Colombian aeroplane crash earlier this week.
There was cause for concern inside the opening two minutes for Chelsea as Eden Hazard, after challenging for the ball with Fernandinho, twisted his ankle and went down in some discomfort.
Thankfully he was quickly back on his feet and re-joined the action.
The Belgian was soon orchestrating proceedings from an attacking point of view and saw a shot charged down by John Stones after playing a smart one-two with Diego Costa.
City saw a penalty appeal turned down after just seven minutes when the ball appeared to strike the hand of Cahill as David Silva turned inside the defender.
There was very little the Chelsea skipper could do about it, however.
The first chance of the game came Chelsea way and Hazard was unlucky, bending a right-footed strike just wide of the post after good work from both Pedro and Diego Costa in the build-up.
Aguero then forced Thibaut Courtois into a smart stop at the other end with a fizzing strike.
After a fairly quiet opening 20 minutes the game quickly sprung into life; Fernandinho headed a De Bruyne free-kick into the back of the net, only to see the goal ruled out for offside.
A minute later Chelsea almost took the lead.
Fabregas released Hazard with a brilliant ball over the top but after rounding Claudio Bravo, the winger opted to pass, rather than shoot, and City cleared.
When David Luiz nudged Aguero off the ball after the Argentine pounced on a wayward pass the home fans were urging referee Anthony Taylor to produce a card.
But after looking to his linesman for assistance it was decided the challenge was a fair one.
City then passed up the best chance of the game when Aguero was first to a Silva cut-back, only to see his close-range effort superbly blocked by Cahill.
The City pressure had been building as half-time approached and on the stroke of the break they took the lead when Jesus Navas’s cross was diverted past Courtois by the outstretched boot of Cahill.
The hosts should have doubled their lead soon after the restart when Leroy Sane burst through the middle and slipped the ball to his right.
De Bruyne collected his pass and fired towards goal from an angle but Courtois thwarted his compatriot by saving with his feet.
Conte made his first change four minutes into the second half with Willian replacing Pedro and after the Brazilian had dragged an effort from distance wide, Chelsea almost conceded again.
Alonso’s back pass was sloppy and Aguero pounced, but after rounding Courtois his effort was brilliantly blocked by Cahill.
Moments later they went even closer, this time De Bruyne hitting the bar from point-blank range as he arrived to meet a Navas delivery.
The home side were made to pay for their profligacy almost immediately as the Blues restored parity from their next attack.
Fabregas, seeking out Diego Costa, lofted a ball forward and after out-muscling Otamendi, the striker fired low and hard beyond Cabalero to send the travelling Chelsea fans packed in behind the goal wild.
The introduction of Willian was having a positive impact on Chelsea attacking play, with City struggling to cope with his pace and direct running.
Pep Guardiola’s side, however, continued to look menacing with every foray into the Chelsea half.
Moses then produced an unbelievable clearance from virtually on the goal line with Aguero ready to pounce.
Nine minutes after equalising, the game was turned on its head when the Blues took the lead following a devastating counter attack.
As the ball was worked forward to Diego Costa, he intelligently spotted the run of Willian and released the winger with an incisive pass.
The substitute still had plenty to do but after advancing into the City penalty area he fired into the bottom corner.
City made further changes as the game entered its final 15 minutes, Yaya Toure and Kelechi Iheanacho coming on, while Nathaniel Chalobah replaced Diego Costa for the Blues.
City continued to press for a late leveller but with a minute left on the clock it was 3-1 as Alonso released Hazard who raced clear and dispatched his strike confidently.
Tempers boiled over in added time after Aguero scythed down David Luiz as he attempted to clear.
The striker was sent off and he was quickly followed by Fernandinho, who was dismissed after grabbing Fabregas around the throat.
It’s now eight consecutive Premier League wins for the Blues, with today’s perhaps the most impressive of all given the manner of the victory and the quality of our opponents.
Next up, West Bromwich Albion at the Bridge a week tomorrow.
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