Kevin De Bruyne produced a resounding winner as Premier League leaders Manchester City made 13 points clear with a 1-0 win over second-placed Chelsea on Saturday.
The Belgian playwright, who had an unhappy spell at Chelsea early in his career, overcame Kepa Arrizabalaga from afar to settle a tight match at the Etihad Stadium with 20 minutes remaining.
It was a magic moment worthy of winning any game, but the lowest City deserved to dominate against the team that defeated them in last season’s Champions League final.
The win ensured a double for Pep Guardiola’s side this stint at Chelsea and possibly ended his chances of a London title. Third-placed Liverpool, 14 points behind but with two games in hand, may now be the only side that can realistically hope to deprive City of a fourth crown in five years, but that looks a tall order. Is.
City made six changes from the team that defeated Swindon in the FA Cup and, despite all their recent problems following the outbreak of COVID-19, made a complete professional appearance.
Yet he was asked to work harder because, due to Chelsea’s deep play, he could not create many clear chances despite exerting relentless pressure.
John Stones remained ahead after a corner led by Kepa and Raheem Sterling continued to upset Marcos Alonso, but the home side faced a stubborn defence.
Sitting back was probably not the initial gameplan, but something imposed on him by City dominance, given Thomas Tuchel’s angry reactions at the touchline for much of Chelsea’s work.
Despite this, he had one of the best openings of the first half when Christian Pulisic made a rare counter-attack, but Romelu Lukaku attempted to seize a shooting opportunity with Hakim Ziyech.
The city did not move close again until just before the interval when De Bruyne ousted Matteo Kovacic outside the region. The ball rolled invitingly to Jack Grealish but, after taking a touch, a £100m man attempt to lift Kepa off the top hit the keeper and was rolled wide.
The second half started at a very lively pace, with Chelsea probably realizing they were trying to do something different.
This allowed the game to open and both De Bruyne and Grealish hit dangerous balls into the Chelsea box after retreating from the defence.
Between those opportunities, Chelsea moved closer as Kovacic played Lukaku, but the former Manchester United striker was thwarted by a fine defense from Ederson and Ziyech fired a rebound over.
There was a strong appeal for a penalty after Sterling was clipped in the field, but the flag was raised for an offside in the build-up.
De Bruyne saved Kepa with a free-kick just after the hour, and Sterling had a decent effort when he scored from the right.
Despite City’s superiority, some De Bruyne talent was needed to finally break the impasse.
De Bruyne held on in the middle of the Chelsea half and N’Golo got away with a crude attempt by Kante to stop him. This gave him room to run and he made the most of it, charging at the edge of the field before rolling a good shot ahead of Kepa.
It provided a killer blow with City comfortably playing through the final minutes to claim a potentially decisive victory.