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Man City defeats Chelsea 2-1 in Etihad

Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez has been involved in 10 goals in his 11 starts for Manchester City this season – four goals and six assists

Premier League champions Manchester City got back to winning ways by coming from behind to beat in-form Chelsea in an entertaining game.

The visitors, who had won their previous seven away games, led when N’Golo Kante slipped the ball past Ederson from Marco Kovacic’s aerial pass.

At that stage City were facing back-to-back Premier League defeats which would have left them 12 points behind leaders Liverpool and given them an uphill task to retain their title.

But the hosts rallied and equalised when Kevin de Bruyne’s shot hit Kurt Zouma and wrongfooted goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Riyad Mahrez put the reigning champions – who move above Chelsea into third place – ahead with a fine finish after cutting in from the right wing.

Both sides could have scored more in a chaotic first half, City going closest when Sergio Aguero hit the crossbar after a poor clearance by Kepa.

There were fewer incidents in the second half although Aguero hobbled off and had to be replaced by Gabriel Jesus, with Pep Guardiola worried it is a bad muscle injury.

Raheem Sterling thought he had scored a late third for City but it was ruled out by the video assistant referee in a very tight offside call.

City only had 46.74% of the ball, the lowest percentage by any Guardiola team in any of his 381 top-flight matches in charge of Barcelona, Bayern Munich or City.

They sit nine points behind leaders Liverpool, who beat them 3-1 in the last game before the international break.

“Chelsea are an incredible team,” Guardiola told BBC Sport after the game. “We knew it, but we beat them.

“It was a typical high-level game. Our back four played so good today. In the most difficult period of the game, we scored on the counter.

“We created enough chances to score more goals.”

City ride their luck in first half

Both sides had plenty of opportunities in a manic first half.

De Bruyne went close after two minutes from Aguero’s pass while Tammy Abraham had a hand in four Chelsea efforts, setting up Willian and Fikayo Tomori to shoot wide and having two efforts himself.

They then tore City apart as Willian picked out the unmarked Emerson Palmieri on the left wing but his powerful shot was saved by Ederson.

Their goal eventually came though, when Kante held off Benjamin Mendy before turning the ball past Ederson, who may have been advised to stay on his line.

However that 21st-minute goal would prove to be Chelsea’s final shot on target of the game.

There was a degree of fortune to City’s equaliser. David Silva’s pass to De Bruyne took two deflections, including one off Zouma, to find the Belgium playmaker, whose shot – which looked as if it was heading for Kepa – also hit the France centre-back and leave the keeper helpless.

From that moment, City were on top and Mahrez produced a wonderful effort to give them the lead. The Algeria winger was fed by Rodri down the right, skipped between two defenders as he cut in before firing a shot between the legs of Tomori and into the net.

City’s fightback should have been even more comprehensive when Kepa passed the ball straight to Aguero, but the Argentina striker lifted the ball over the Spain goalkeeper but off the bar.

“We were controlling the game,” Chelsea boss Frank Lampard told BBC Match of the Day. “We were playing some great stuff and we felt in control but you can’t be absolutely in control against Manchester City.

“It was bad luck for their first goal, and absolute quality from Riyad Mahrez for the second and that changed the game.

“Maybe we were a bit slow with our movement at the back. I know we were giving them a good game but I am disappointed with the small details.

“If you look at City they are an example, and we’re at the absolute start of that process. A few of our players were in the Championship last season, but we want more.”

Drama at both ends in dramatic finish

Guardiola’s side did enough to see the game out after the break, restricting the visitors – who had won their previous six Premier League games – to only five shots, all off target.

The hosts had most of the second-half opportunities – despite their unusually low amount of possession – with De Bruyne, Fernandinho and Phil Foden all having shots saved by Kepa.

However Chelsea were inches away from equalising in injury time when substitute Mason Mount’s 30-yard free-kick went just wide.

Seconds later City were celebrating for a third time as Mahrez headed the ball on for Sterling to blast home – but a VAR check ruled that the England forward was marginally offside.

Raheem Sterling

@sterling7

Happy to improve my VAR overruled goals record today again 💯 damn this thing gonna kill me bro 😂😂😂

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