Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City beat champions Chelsea 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday to extend their lead to 18 points and leave the London side further adrift from the Champions League qualification spots.
Pep Guardiola’s City, who have now won 14 straight home games, need just four wins from their remaining nine matches to be crowned champions.
After Chelsea’s defensive approach resulted in a first-half stalemate, City went ahead 33 seconds into the second period when Bernardo Silva turned in a low cross from David Silva.
Chelsea have now lost four of their last five Premier League games and are in fifth place, five points behind Tottenham Hotspur who occupy the fourth Champions League spot.
It was far from a classic game with Chelsea showing little ambition and City happy to play within themselves for large stretches, but that was perhaps a consequence of a title race that has effectively been over for months. Still Chelsea hardly approached the game like a team who needed points to get back in contention to qualify for Europe’s elite competition.
Antonio Conte left both Chelsea’s recognised strikers – Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud - on the bench and opted to play winger Eden Hazard as a lone striker. Conte defended his approach, saying he was concerned about the risk of a heavy defeat.
City completed 902 passes, more than any other team in a single Premier League match since 2003-04 when such statistics were first officially recorded.