Bernardo Silva scored just 34 seconds into the second half to give Manchester City a well-earned victory over a poor Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium. As a result, Pep Guardiola's side now only needs four more wins to be crowned Premier League champions.
Bernardo Silva scored just 34 seconds into the second half to give Manchester City a well-earned victory over a poor Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium.
The game will not be remembered as a classic, with Chelsea sitting back and showing little attacking ambition for the majority of the match, seemingly demonstrating too much respect to a Man City side who continue their relentless march towards the title with another three points on the board.
Aymeric Laporte returned at the back in place of Vincent Kompany for City, with Oleksandr Zinchenko starting at full-back while Raheem Sterling missed out again through injury.
Chelsea opted for no out-and-out striker in the starting 11 despite having Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata on the bench, with Eden Hazard playing the furthest forward for the Blues. N´Golo Kante didn't make the squad after suffering from illness.
City predictably dominated all the early possession without managing to create any clear-cut chances, with Chelsea barely able to get the ball out of their own half. Bernardo Silva went close in the 20th minute when the ball found him after a wonderful mazy Leroy Sane run, but the Portuguese curled his shot just over from the edge of the box.
Seven minutes later Kevin De Bruyne swung a ball in from a free kick which Sane controlled brilliantly, and the German fired in a fierce shot from the left. Thibaut Courtois was beaten, but Cesar Azpilicueta was there to block fantastically on the line.
City were doing all the pressing but couldn't make a breakthrough, while Hazard was an anonymous figure for Chelsea, devoid of any kind of service from his team-mates, although Willian looked bright with the odd driving run here and there.
They went in at the break at 0-0, with the City fans growing audibly frustrated by Chelsea's negative defensive tactics.
But just over 30 seconds into the second half Chelsea's game plan was undone in an instant. After receiving the ball on the left from Sergio Aguero, David Silva played a delicious ball across the goalmouth which was gleefully tucked away by Silva. Chelsea manager Antonio Conte had a face like thunder, furious that all his side's work in the first half had been ruined in 34 seconds.
Chelsea finally fashioned their first real clear chance in the 53rd minute when Victor Moses found himself in space on the right, but he wastefully blasted wide rather than trying to find a team-mate in the middle.
City started stroking the ball around like it was a training session, and Conte finally decided to roll the dice in the 78th minute by bringing on Giroud, and then Emerson and Morata just a few minutes later.
The changes did little to affect proceedings, however, and City saw out the match with ease, although Marcus Alonso did volley wide in the dying seconds. It was a more than deserved win.
The result means that City move to a titanic 18 points clear of Manchester United with the Reds to play Crystal Palace on Monday night, while Chelsea are now five points off fourth placed Tottenham Hotspur. At this rate, City will be crowned champions sooner rather than later.