Eden Hazard scored Chelsea’s third goal in 90th minute, sealing their eighth Premier League win in a row
Chelsea’s eighth successive Premier League win cemented their place at the top of the table – but their victory at Etihad Stadium ended in chaos as Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho were sent off in injury time.
Watch video of how Chelsea defeated Man City 3-1
Antonio Conte’s side delivered an impressive statement of intent as they cut City apart on the break after going behind to Gary Cahill’s own goal on the stroke of half-time, when he diverted Jesus Navas’ cross beyond keeper Thibaut Courtois.
The game turned on Kevin de Bruyne’s 56th-minute miss with City in control, crashing Navas’ cross against the bar from inside the six-yard box.
Chelsea were level on the hour when Diego Costa outmuscled Nicolas Otamendi to score and they were ahead 10 minutes later when substitute Willian raced clear to beat City keeper Claudio Bravo with ease.
They were tested by periods of City domination, but showed a ruthlessness to match their steely resilience and tore Pep Guardiola’s side to shreds in the closing 20 minutes.
Conte’s switch to a three-man defensive system and the rejuvenation of key men such as Costa and Hazard is making this Chelsea side resemble the full title package.
The last time Manchester City kept a clean sheet was against West Brom on 29 October
Manchester City have kept one clean sheet at home in the Premier League this season – in the 4-0 win against Bournemouth – and on this evidence it is easy to see why.
For all City’s domination of possession and creation, Guardiola’s side have an Achilles heel at the back that was ruthlessly exposed here.
Guardiola has been linked with defensive reinforcements, particularly Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk, and the manner in which they were dismantled here now makes this a matter of urgency.
The jitters started early when John Stones was caught in possession in his own area, while defensive partner Nicolas Otamendi had a nightmare afternoon and was culpable for Chelsea’s first two goals from Costa, where he was weak in the challenge, and Willian.
Frustrations boiled over for players from both teams after Segio Aguero caught David Luiz with a late challenge
It is unlikely either Manchester City or Chelsea have heard the last of a shameful conclusion to a high-class game of football as players and officials from both sides became embroiled in ugly scenes.
City’s frustration at what they believed were a series of injustices at the hands of referee Anthony Taylor boiled over in injury time as Aguero caught Luiz high and late, which happened after the Argentina striker clashed with the defender at a corner earlier.
Chelsea’s Nathaniel Chalobah joined in and was lucky not to see red, while Fernandinho was sent off for grabbing Cesc Fabregas.
Even then, Fernandinho had to be forced to leave the pitch and with the whole situation threatening to go completely out of control, it was fortunate referee Taylor was able to blow the final whistle seconds later.
It is hard to see how both clubs can escape censure for a failure to control their players.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola in a statement said, Congratulations to Chelsea – they won. We played really good, had a lot of control and created chances – but the ball in the box was not strong enough.
“Chelsea’s approach was really different but that is part of the game. You don’t expect Chelsea to create 25 chances – they created three and scored three.”
When asked about Aguero’s challenge on Luiz at the end of the game, GUardiola added: “Both players were strong there – that’s all.”
“I saw lots of character from my team and that’s very important to grow – but we must continue to work and improve.”
Speaking about Costa’s role as peace keeper at the end of the game, he added: “Diego is showing he is using his passion in the right way and I’m very happy about that.”
Jason Roberts, former West Brom striker, on Final Score: “Chelsea were incredible. They went behind but they kept their heads. I think Pep got it wrong and I think Conte got everything right.
“The performances from Willian, from Costa, from Fabregas – who came on and showed he has that bit of guile. This is the best game I’ve seen this season.”
Manchester City have a home game against Celtic in the Champions League on Tuesday (19:45 GMT kick-off), followed by a Premier League trip to Leicester City on 10 December (17:30).
Chelsea’s next game is a home match against West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on 11 December at 12:00 GMT