So, the wait goes on. Manchester City didn’t quite blow their Premier League title bid but they made a bit of a shambles of it as they messed up against Chelsea at the Etihad on Saturday.
The Londoners dominated their hosts to keep the Premier League title race alive for one more game and pose City a huge problem — of a different sort.
This was meant to be a dress rehearsal for the Champions League final and the coronation of Manchester City in the EPL for the fifth time in a decade, but Chelsea had another agenda.
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The Blues are still fighting to secure a top-four spot and a place at the top table in Europe next season and were clearly the hungrier of the two teams.
While Pep Guardiola put out a second-string side, with Fernandinho, Phil Foden, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva all on the bench, and Kevin de Bruyne not even in the squad, it was a rare start for Sergio Aguero up front for City — but he blotted his copybook somewhat very much to the chagrin of Guardiola on the bench.
More on that shortly.
City were fairly lacklustre in the opening 45 minutes as a full-strength Chelsea dominated the opening exchanges. However, they somehow found themselves going into the break 1-0 up as Raheem Sterling broke through with the break looming.
There was more drama to come as City were awarded a penalty right before the interval as Billy Gilmour pulled back Gabriel Jesus and the referee pointed to the spot.
With history in his hands, the all-time hero of City — Aguero — chose to try a cheeky Paneka chip and Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was happy to see he had time to dive, get back up and then simply catch the ball. A red-faced Aguero trotted up the tunnel with a wry smile, but Guardiola was fuming.
It got worse for City as Rodri lost possession in midfield after the restart, Chelsea surged forward and Hakim Ziyech powered home past Ederson at the near post. Chelsea were clearly in the ascendancy and had two quick goals ruled out as VAR got it right for once, well, twice in succession.
City looked happy to take a point as the clock ran down, knowing it is only a matter of time before the tie up another EPL title.
There was a late shout for a Sterling penalty but referee Anthony Taylor was not interested. Chelsea continued to push and they found a winner as Marcos Alonso got on the end of a fine team move to give Chelsea three vital points.
Thomas Tuchel and his boys were celebrating like they had won the league themselves at the final whistle, but maybe they knew this was a psychological blow to City ahead of their next match against the Sky Blues. There are still many elements at play in the race for the EPL top four but Chelsea now look to have it in their own hands.
Manchester United can still catch City mathematically in the race for the title but given their workload over the next week and also a Europa League final coming up, that looks unlikely. In the long game, with a Champions League trophy on the line at the end of the month, Guardiola and City have a few questions to answer before they get on the plane to Istanbul.