With Chelsea's help, Liverpool has put the finishing touches on the Premier League title it has so clearly deserved.
Two-time reigning champion Manchester City fell to Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge Thursday, knowing it needed a win to prevent Liverpool from clinching its first top-flight English title in 30 years. Liverpool had extended its lead to 23 points with a 4-0 rout of Crystal Palace on Wednesday, and Man City had a maximum of 24 it can secure the rest of the way. A loss or draw to Chelsea would have made it mathematically impossible for Pep Guardiola's side to catch Liverpool, and that's precisely how it played out in London.
Chelsea took the lead through in the 36th minute Christian Pulisic, who pounced on a City turnover at the center circle and took off for a sensational solo goal. Kevin De Bruyne equalized with a gorgeous free kick in the 55th minute, but the lead was restored for Chelsea through a Willian penalty kick after a VAR review in the 78th minute.
Man City was the early aggressor, with a pair of pushes forward by virtue of defense-splitting passes in the opening five minutes ultimately falling apart in the final third.
The City pressure continued, with a fabulous team move involving the club pinging the ball around before a surging-forward Benjamin Mendy won a corner. Nothing came from the set piece, though, and the second wave of attack resulted with a Bernardo Silva header falling harmlessly for goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Kepa was called into action in the 18th minute, acrobatically tipping Fernandinho's flicked-on header over the bar off a Riyad Mahrez free kick.
Fernandinho made a block of his own in the 27th minute, getting in front of Ross Barkley's whipped-in shot that was goal-bound if not for the veteran Brazilian's presence.
Barkley was the danger man again when he nearly set up Pulisic for a go-ahead goal with a near-post cross. City scrambled to defend that, but an ensuing corner kick resulted in a tremendous reflex save from Ederson, who palmed away Andreas Christensen's on-target header in the 33rd minute.
Chelsea's lead came soon after. A Man City free kick turned into a one-man counterattack spearheaded by Pulisic, who pounced on a mixup at the center circle by Mendy and Ilkay Gundogan and took off for goal, scoring for the second straight game to give Chelsea a 1-0 edge.
Man City came back firing in the second half, and 10 minutes in, the reigning champions pulled level. De Bruyne fired in a his 20-yard free kick, leaving Kepa helpless and make it 1-1.
It very nearly became 2-1 City moments later, with Raheem Sterling getting in behind on the counterattack, only to put his chance off the post as Kepa raced off his line to try to cut down the angle.
Chelsea nearly retook the lead in the 62nd minute after Ederson served up a turnover directly to Mason Mount, whose subsequent chance on goal went into the side netting.
On the other end, Sterling was inches away from putting City in front, curling what would've been a spectacular goal just wide of the far post in the 68th minute, prior to the second-half water break.
The chances continued to alternate, with Pulisic being robbed of a second goal by mere millimeters. He rounded Ederson and fired on target, only for Kyle Walker to race into position to sweep away the shot just before it could cross the goal line.
Chelsea again was robbed on the goal line on two occasions, with Tammy Abraham and Pulisic both having chances blocked. On Abraham's second follow-up, though, Fernandinho swiped the ball away with his hand, and a VAR review confirmed the intentional handball and subsequent red card and penalty. Willian converted from the spot to make it 2-1 Chelsea.
The win had title implications but also major implications in the race for the top four. Chelsea pulled within a point of third-place Leicester City and moved five points clear of both Manchester United and Wolves in the quest to reach the Champions League.
Here were the lineups for both teams:
Man City, which faces Newcastle in the FA Cup quarterfinals this weekend, returns to action in league play next Thursday, when it hosts Liverpool and will likely provide a guard of honor to the new champions. Chelsea, which faces Leicester City in the FA Cup quarterfinals on Sunday, turns its league focus to West Ham next Wednesday.