Manchester City celebrated being crowned THE PREMIER League champions with a relatively simple 1-0 win at home to Chelsea.
Nottingham Forest’s 1-0 victory against Arsenal on Saturday meant the Citizens were confirmed as title-winners one day early.
Pep Guardiola made nine changes to the side that hammered Real Madrid as a result and played the match at a slow pace, with the Blues hardly laying a glove on their party-mode hosts.
With three minutes on the clock, Man City came close to taking the lead. A corner was headed away by Kai Havertz but only as far as Sergio Gomez, whose sliced volley whistled just past the post.
They didn’t need to wait much longer to take the lead, however. Wesley Fofana’s ball from the back was easily intercepted by Kalvin Phillips, who quickly shifted the ball to Cole Palmer, and he teed up Julian Alvarez to fire beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea were fortunate not to concede a second in quick succession when Palmer darted into space vacated by wing-back Cesar Azpilicueta. His clever cutback was flicked on by Rico Lewis but Alvarez and Phil Foden got in each other’s way when trying to shoot, with Riyad Mahrez’s eventual strike being deflected behind.
A delectable dink from Foden after meeting a pass over the top from Phillips bounced narrowly wide as the hosts’ domination continued.
The visitors’ first chance came through Raheem Sterling on his return to the Etihad. Havertz slipped him beyond Walker and Akanji, but his close-range shot was well saved by the leg of Stefan Ortega.
Chelsea went close again when Lewis Hall’s cross was headed down by Conor Gallagher. The ball struck the inside of the post and was deflected away off Ortega’s knee.
In the second half, Man City struck the upright themselves when Phillips’ header from a Mahrez free-kick crashed against the post.
Sterling had an effort cleared off the line by John Stones just after the hour mark, but an offside flag was later raised regardless.
Back down the other end, Man City had the ball in the net through Mahrez, but the whistle had been blown for a foul on Fofana in the buildup.
Moments later, the ball was in the net again with Mahrez this time setting up Alvarez, but the Algerian clearly handled it when winning possession back and another goal was chalked off.
A low cross from substitute Erling Haaland was inches away from being tapped in by Lewis at the far post as Man City sought to legitimately establish a two-goal cushion.
Foden blocked a strike from Azpilicueta at the back post at the end of three minutes of stoppage time, after which Chelsea were put out of their misery.
Man City will party long into the night after a memorable weekend, with the lifting of the Premier League trophy soon to follow on Sunday.
Manchester City player ratings (3-2-4-1)
GK: Stefan Ortega – 7/10 – A reliable deputy for Ederson, making a string of fine saves. Distribution wasn’t quite on the same level as the Brazilian but that’s to be expected.
CB: Kyle Walker – 6/10 – Outpaced by Sterling days after giving the burners to Vinicius Junior. Largely fine, however.
CB: Manuel Akanji – 5/10 – A little haphazard positionally and was understandably not as locked in as he has been in recent games.
CB: Aymeric Laporte – 6/10 – Lapsed in concentration once or twice but was solid for the most part. One of a few players with hair dyed blue.
DM: Kalvin Phillips – 8/10 – Made good on a very, very rare chance to impress. Controlled the midfield battle and created some great openings.
DM: Sergio Gomez – 6/10 – Shuttled between left-back, midfield and the wing. Kept play ticking without being spectacular.
RM: Riyad Mahrez – 6/10 – Made to work for his chances by Hall. Had more joy in their duels in the second half before being withdrawn.
AM: Rico Lewis – 7/10 – Played with a bit more freedom further forward but still got back to fulfil his requisite defensive duties.
AM: Phil Foden – 7/10 – You know those cameo substitute appearances where players keep things simple, go for an ambitious dribble once or twice and then the game is over? Foden did that but for 90 minutes.
LM: Cole Palmer – 8/10 – Continually got in behind Azpilicueta even though he’s hardly a pacy outlet. Another fringe player who impressed with some minutes from the off.
CF: Julian Alvarez – 8/10 – Sharp and ready to step up from the very first whistle. Deserving of his goal and cruelly denied a second because of Mahrez’s ineptitude.
John Stones (57′ for Akanji) – 7/10
Erling Haaland (73′ for Mahrez) – 6/10
Kevin De Bruyne (78′ for Gomez) – 6/10
Rodri (78′ for Laporte) – 6/10
Subs not used: Ederson, Dias, Gundogan, Silva, Grealish
Pep Guardiola – 7/10 – Even with a heavily-rotated side and presumably having spent last night celebrating, Man City still looked tremendous and well-drilled.
Chelsea player ratings (3-5-2)
GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga – 6/10 – Not much he could have done without the goal. Got through the game without embarrassing himself or bringing more shame to Chelsea.
CB: Wesley Fofana – 3/10 – Daftly gave the ball away leading to Man City’s opener. Showed little desire to be up for the fight.
CB: Thiago Silva – 5/10 – Started awfully but grew into the game and notably enjoyed a crunching slide tackle on Haaland.
CB: Trevoh Chalobah – 5/10 – Man City’s opener came from Chalobah’s side as he had begun moving up the pitch, though that wasn’t necessarily his fault as Fofana cheaply ceded possession.
RM: Cesar Azpilicueta – 3/10 – Torn apart by Palmer and will want to forget such a poor performance in a hurry.
CM: Conor Gallagher – 6/10 – Brought his usual energy and bite in a slow game, though didn’t provide a lot in possession.
CM: Enzo Fernandez – 4/10 – Wasn’t quite sure what his role or responsibilities in midfield were. Booked for petulantly kicking the ball away.
CM: Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 6/10 – At least tried to run at Man City and progress the ball. Setting the bar high, I know.
LM: Lewis Hall – 6/10 – Another impressive showing from the youngster, whose wicked delivery caused Man City a few problems.
CF: Raheem Sterling – 6/10 – Always dangerous and lively as he so often was around these parts, but lacked that cutting edge. Given a warm ovation when substituted.
CF: Kai Havertz – 5/10 – Showcased some neat touches and passes but was never really a threat to the hosts.
Noni Madueke (69′ for Gallagher) – 5/10
Mykahilo Mudryk (69′ for Sterling) – 5/10
Kalidou Koulibaly (81′ for Hall) – 5/10
Carney Chukwuemeka (81′ for Loftus-Cheek) – 5/10
Christian Pulisic (85′ for Havertz) – N/A
Subs not used: Mendy, Felix, Ziyech, D. Fofana
Frank Lampard – 4/10 – If Chelsea had half-tried, they would have beaten a Man City side who clearly were happy to play at walking pace. Lampard failed to rally his troops to even do that.
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