English Premier League

Eight wins in a row for Chelsea as they stun Manchester City in classic clash

Guardiola apologises for City meltdown as Chelsea beat title rivals 3-1 in a game that had everything

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 December, 2016, 10:45pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 December, 2016, 11:55pm

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola issued an apology after his side lost their cool and were reduced to nine men during Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Premier League leaders Chelsea.

City took the lead late in the first half, but second-half goals from Diego Costa, Willian and Eden Hazard gave Chelsea a smash-and-grab victory and the hosts lost their composure in stoppage time.

Sergio Aguero was sent off for a flying lunge on David Luiz and in the ensuing touchline melee, Fernandinho was dismissed after throttling Cesc Fabregas and shoving him over an advertising hoarding.

“It’s a pity it finished like this. I don’t like that. I apologise for what happened,” said Guardiola, whose side have gone four home league games without victory.

Aguero now faces a four-match suspension, but Guardiola claimed his airborne foul on Luiz had not been intentional.

He also said Fernandinho, who will be banned for three games, had merely wanted to “defend his team-mate” when he confronted Fabregas, who played under Guardiola at Barcelona.

Asked for his verdict on Aguero’s challenge, Chelsea defender Luiz said: “I don’t like to speak about these type of things. Aguero is an amazing player who does a lot for football.”

But he added: “We showed our power. It also shows our character that we didn’t lose our heads.”

It was Chelsea’s eighth victory in succession – their best such run within the same season since 2007 – and left them four points clear of City at the top of the table.

Win number eight was a smash-and-grab effort, with City dominating the game and seeing Kevin De Bruyne hit the bar from five yards at 1-0 before Chelsea clinically picked them off on the break.

“I think today was very tough and the game was open until the end. There were lots of chances for both teams to score,” said Chelsea manager Antonio Conte.

“I saw lots of character from my team and that’s very important to grow. But we must continue to work and improve.”

City defender John Stones, whose side went ahead courtesy of Gary Cahill’s own goal, said: “There is quite a sour feeling running through everyone’s mind. It is a difficult one to take in the end.

“The scoreline didn’t reflect the way we played. In my opinion we should have won 3-1. But that’s football.”

City were left to rue some profligate finishing, but it was referee Anthony Taylor who attracted the home fans’ ire.

He had already denied City what would have been a very harsh penalty for handball against Cahill when Cesar Azpilicueta’s under-hit back-pass gifted Aguero a run on goal.

Luiz leant into Aguero as the Argentine sought to run past him, sending him crashing to the deck, but Taylor waved play on to the fury of the home support.

City had offered the greater threat, with Aguero threatening on three occasions, and the final minute of the half yielded the breakthrough.

Allowed to advance to the edge of the Chelsea box, Jesus Navas dispatched a pacy cross that Cahill contrived to shin past Thibaut Courtois.

Forced into an early change in the second half as Pedro Rodriguez succumbed to an earlier knock, with Willian coming on, Chelsea appeared at risk of being submerged.

Courtois saved from De Bruyne and David Silva, while Cahill had to slide in and clear after Aguero intercepted Marcos Alonso’s back-pass and rounded Courtois.

De Bruyne then gave Chelsea an extraordinary let-off, slamming the ball against the bar from five yards after being picked out by Navas.

A goal seemed a matter of time and so it proved, but it was Chelsea who struck, Costa chesting down Fabregas’s pass, holding off Nicolas Otamendi and drilling in his 11th goal of the campaign.

He played an instrumental role as Chelsea took the lead 10 minutes later, freeing Willian to run through and plant a low shot past a flat-footed Bravo.

City saw another penalty call waved away after Alonso swiped the air in front of Navas before Hazard made the game safe, racing onto Alonso’s pass and coolly beating Bravo.

It proved the cue for a stoppage-time meltdown that will land Aguero and Fernandinho in hot water with the Football Association.