Match ends, Manchester City 1, Chelsea 0.
Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has defended the use of his tactics in his side's defeat at Premier League leaders Manchester City.
The Blues produced a surprisingly negative display and failed to have a shot on target in the match as Bernardo Silva's goal less than a minute into the second half sealed the game and pushed Manchester City 18 points clear at the top and closer to the title.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville called Chelsea's display "absolutely unacceptable" and accused Conte's players of being "mannequins", while colleague Jamie Redknapp called their approach "anti-football" and "a crime against football".
The Italian boss responded: "You have to accept every critic, but I am not so stupid to play against Manchester City open and to lose 3-0 or 4-0.
"A few days ago, Arsenal played twice against them and then you criticised [Arsenal manager Arsene] Wenger a lot because they conceded three goals in only 30 minutes.
"The pundit has to use the head to understand when you speak about tactics because I think you must have knowledge to speak about tactics and not only to speak in a stupid way."
When asked if Chelsea could have been more ambitious in their play, striker Olivier Giroud, who came on as substitute, said: "It is a good question. The coach made his tactics. We tried to respect it."
Pep Guardiola's side were forced to bide their time before making the breakthrough on Sunday and it came when Silva stole in ahead of Marcos Alonso from David Silva's cross to beat Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Chelsea did not register a single shot on target, leaving Manchester City keeper Ederson a virtual bystander as he was even able to watch Alonso's timid shot drift wide with seconds left.
It was a disappointing day for Chelsea and manager Conte - and of even greater concern is that they are now five points adrift of Tottenham in fourth place in the race for spots in next season's Champions League.
Man City's winning game of patience
Manchester City's season has been characterised by regular flourishes that will make them worthy Premier League champions when the formalities are finally concluded.
Here, against a Chelsea side surprisingly devoid of ambition, Guardiola's champions-elect were forced to show patience rather than the dazzling brilliance they have demonstrated on so many occasions.
Chelsea's massed ranks formed a blue wall of defensive defiance, organised and well-drilled, leaving City to enjoy almost total possession and search for any gaps in the barricade assembled by Conte.
City, in the manner of champions, played the waiting game, almost unlocking the Blues when Leroy Sane's touch and control created an opening, only for Cesar Azpilicueta to scramble his shot off the line.
It was a day for attrition as opposed to artistry and City confirmed they have both sides to their character, punishing Chelsea for a slow start to the second half, Sergio Aguero playing in David Silva, whose cross was met by his namesake Bernardo at the far post.
In driving rain, and with Chelsea mysteriously refusing to take off the handbrake, they were able to close out a victory that will, in its own way, have brought as much pleasure to Guardiola as many of the more spectacular wins this season.
It was an indication of how they had to keep their head and be patient that they played a total of 902 passes, more than any other team has managed in a Premier League game since 2003-04.
City, with a performance that showed their adaptability, edged nearer to the title.
Chelsea pay for cautious approach
Chelsea manager Conte could hardly have been expected to adopt a gung-ho approach to this visit to Manchester City - but his side's negative style became increasingly bewildering as the game went on.
It was understandable when the mission was clearly to frustrate City and for 45 minutes it delivered a measure of success as Guardiola's side were restricted - it was after they conceded a goal that matters became confusing.
Chelsea still refused to offer any sign of ambition and even when they did attacks fizzled out tamely, with some ironic cheers from the visiting fans when they won a corner late on and also when Alonso's timid shot drifted wide in stoppage time.
"We didn't create any chances. It was complicated," said Blues forward Eden Hazard.
"Once we had the ball, we were immediately surrounded by three or four players. We wasted some simple passes and we didn't play a good game."
Giroud only appeared as a substitute with 13 minutes left, while Alvaro Morata's introduction came with seconds to go at the expense of Hazard.
"When the manager plays me up front, I try to give everything," Belgium international Hazard added. "It's difficult to play a good game when you only touch the ball three times.
"If Giroud or Morata had played up front, it would have been easier to play those long balls. With me, it's a little bit more complicated - but I tried my best."
It was all a far cry from the Chelsea side that showed such ambition and drive to turn a half-time deficit around to win here en route to becoming Premier League champions last season.
Chelsea's tactics could be regarded as a compliment to Manchester City - but they are also a reflection of their own decline this season and how their sights appear to have altered.
In the end it was to no avail - leaving them with an uphill task to qualify for the top four.
Man City's other Silva starts to shine
David Silva has been one of the symbols of Manchester City's success in the new era, playing a crucial role in two title wins and showing his enduring quality with goals in the successive 3-0 wins against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup at Wembley last Sunday and at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
The 32-year-old Spaniard was at it again here, keeping City ticking over in the tougher moments and playing the crucial cross in the decisive moment of the game.
And it was the man on the end of that cross, his namesake Bernardo Silva, who is now coming into his own after having to bide his time following his £42m summer move from Monaco.
He is another diminutive stylist in the mould Guardiola so admires and after waiting his chance he is showing exactly why City were so keen to acquire his services.
Bernardo Silva was also on target against Arsenal on Thursday and is poised to have an increasingly influential say on City's conclusion to the season as Guardiola and his players chase further glory.
Man of the match - David Silva (Manchester City)
'We are behind the boss' - what they said
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola: "We are not going to play for the records. Records are always a consequence of what you have done but they are not the main thing.
"What really matters is to be champions. I never spoke with the players about the records. Next week at Stoke we are going to try and play like we play all season. After, at the end, we will see."
Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud: "It is not a crisis. We played Manchester United and Manchester City away. These are not small games. We are not happy with that. Obviously we are behind the boss and we are all sticking together."
Pep becomes second manager to do double over Conte - stats
- Manchester City will end the day 18 points clear at the top of the Premier League, the biggest lead ahead of second place since March 2006, when Chelsea were 18 points ahead of Manchester United.
- Chelsea have lost four consecutive away matches in all competitions for the first time since January 2003, when they lost to Man Utd (twice), Leeds and Arsenal.
- Pep Guardiola is only the second manager to complete a league double over Antonio Conte, after Delio Rossi (for Sampdoria in 2012/13).
- Only Sergio Aguero (15) has scored more goals for Manchester City in 2018 in all competitions than Bernardo Silva (5).
- Chelsea failed to register a single shot in the first half, the first time they'd not had a shot in the first half of a Premier League game since 2003/04 (when Opta began recording the data).
- The Blues had just seven shots against Man City in their two Premier League meetings this season, while facing 30 themselves.
- David Silva has assisted 12 goals for City in all competitions this season, his most in a campaign since 2011/12, when he assisted 19 goals.
- Silva has assisted 73 Premier League goals since his debut in August 2010, 20 more than any other player in that time.
Manchester City take on Basel at home in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with progress all but assured courtesy of a 4-0 first-leg win in Switzerland.
Chelsea are in Premier League action, at home against Crystal Palace next Saturday (17:30 GMT), before their own Champions League last-16 second leg away at Barcelona. That tie currently stands at 1-1.
- 35ZinchenkoBooked at 24minsSubstituted forDaniloat 87'minutes
- 17De Bruyne
- 8GündoganBooked at 47mins
- 21SilvaSubstituted forFodenat 90+3'minutes
- 20Bernardo Silva
- 10AgüeroSubstituted forJesusat 85'minutes
- 42Y Touré
- 2RüdigerBooked at 57mins
- 22WillianSubstituted forGiroudat 78'minutes
- 11PedroSubstituted forEmersonat 82'minutes
- 10E HazardSubstituted forMorataat 90'minutes
- Michael Oliver
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Manchester City 1, Chelsea 0.
Attempt missed. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Daniel Drinkwater following a set piece situation.
Substitution, Manchester City. Phil Foden replaces David Silva.
Attempt missed. Leroy Sané (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Daniel Drinkwater (Chelsea).
Substitution, Chelsea. Álvaro Morata replaces Eden Hazard.
David Silva (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Daniel Drinkwater (Chelsea).
Kyle Walker (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Emerson (Chelsea).
Offside, Chelsea. César Azpilicueta tries a through ball, but Eden Hazard is caught offside.
Substitution, Manchester City. Danilo replaces Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Substitution, Manchester City. Gabriel Jesus replaces Sergio Agüero.
Substitution, Chelsea. Emerson replaces Pedro.
Attempt missed. Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) header from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Cesc Fàbregas.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Bernardo Silva.
Substitution, Chelsea. Olivier Giroud replaces Willian.
Attempt missed. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by David Silva.
Foul by Oleksandr Zinchenko (Manchester City).
Victor Moses (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Marcos Alonso.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Daniel Drinkwater.
Attempt blocked. David Silva (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Sergio Agüero.
Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card.
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea).
Attempt saved. David Silva (Manchester City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.
Attempt missed. Victor Moses (Chelsea) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right misses to the right. Assisted by Cesc Fàbregas.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Eden Hazard (Chelsea) because of an injury.
Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City).
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Goal! Manchester City 1, Chelsea 0. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by David Silva with a cross.
Second Half begins Manchester City 0, Chelsea 0.
First Half ends, Manchester City 0, Chelsea 0.
Foul by Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City).
Pedro (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.