Kevin De Bruyne came back to haunt his former club Chelsea as his stunning goal secured a 1-0 win for Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
The Belgian, who was sold by the Blues in 2014, scored the only goal in the 67th minute of Saturday’s Premier League clash to hand Pep Guardiola’s league leaders victory in a game they dominated from almost the first minute.
While suffering their second defeat of the season, Antonio Conte’s champions were also handed an injury blow with top scorer Alvaro Morata coming off with an apparent hamstring injury in the first half.
The result consolidates City’s standing atop the Premier League table while Chelsea sit fourth behind fierce London rivals Tottenham following their 4-0 win away to Huddersfield earlier in the day.
While much of the pre-match talk surrounded Eden Hazard’s first Premier League start of the season, it was another Chelsea player in Morata who stole the early attention at Stamford Bridge.
Fresh off the back of scoring in Chelsea’s 2-1 Champions League comeback win away to Atletico Madrid in midweek, Morata headed an early chance wide, which sent Guardiola wild with anger on the touchline.
Despite the hosts’ positive start, City showed why their attack has been much praised this term – exemplified by their club-record 21 goals in six Premier League matches – when a counter-attack launched by Kyle Walker ended in David Silva flashing his effort just wide.
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
Conte had insisted before this game his team had been injected with confidence from the last-gasp victory over Atletico, but the champions were pulled out of their comfort zone by league leaders City demonstrated when Thibaut Courtois tried to kick clear Antonio Rudiger’s backpass clear but instead saw his effort hit Gabriel Jesus and fly over the bar.
The pace of City’s forwards caused Chelsea’s back line all sorts of problems in the first half, with the Blues left breathing a sigh of relief when Raheem Sterling’s cross failed to find Silva or Jesus in the area.
Then came the blow for the hosts. Morata, who has scored six Premier League goals this season, was forced off in the 35th minute after appearing to pull his hamstring as Willian came on to play in the false No.9 role.
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
City were also missing their top scorer Sergio Aguero, who had been ruled out of the game with a broken rib sustained in a car accident in Amsterdam on Thursday, but the Argentine’s absence was not keenly felt in west London.
Indeed, when Fernandinho sent De Bruyne’s corner toward goal only a superb reflex stop from Courtois could prevent Chelsea from going into the break 1-0 down.
The second period had less of the intensity of the first, yet lacked none of the intriguing battles seen in the opening 45 minutes.
Hazard forced a save from Ederson at City’s near post, but it proved to be Chelsea’s best chance before City took the lead they had looked like getting for so long.
The goal came in stunning fashion when De Bruyne combined with Jesus in the 67th minute before unleashing a rocket of a strike that hurtled past his compatriot Courtois and into the back of the net.
Chelsea tested City’s goal once more when Cesar Azpilicueta forced Ederson into a save at his near post as Jesus’ goalbound strike down the other was headed clear by Rudiger.
But there were to be no further goals and City continued their impressive start to the campaign with an important away victory which demonstrates just why they are serious contenders for Chelsea’s crown this term.