Champions-elect Manchester City continued their title procession with a 1-0 victory over Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium.

Bernardo Silva opened the scoring for the second game running, bundling the winner home 34 seconds into the second half as City moved 18 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Antonio Conte’s decision to not start a recognised striker backfired as Chelsea, missing midfield lynchpin N’Golo Kante, failed to register a single effort on target en-route to a fourth defeat in five.

The 25th victory of City’s stellar season leaves Pep Guardiola needing just four more victories to dethrone Chelsea and claim a maiden title in English football.

The champions will have no doubt travelled to the home of their successors hoping to replicate last week’s dominant first-half display at Old Trafford, but, as has been the case this season, City showed why they are 16 points clear of United with a dominant display of their own.

Chelsea were unable to break up City’s precise passing game in the opening exchanges and errors soon followed as Cesc Fabregas was caught in possession in his own area by Leroy Sane. The ball ran for Sergio Aguero but a block from Antonio Rudiger denied the Argentine his 200th City goal.

After Bernardo Silva curled a shot onto the roof of the Chelsea goal, Oleksandr Zinchenko was fortunate only to see yellow for a lunge on Victor Moses that allowed Willian to race clear, but his driven cross was blocked.

Normal service soon resumed and City so nearly took the lead on 27 minutes as Kevin de Bruyne’s free-kick found Sane at the back post, and his shot was cleared off the line by Cesar Azpilicueta.

City had the ball in the Chelsea net three minutes before as Nicolas Otamendi applied the finishing touch to a clever quick free-kick, but Aguero was ruled offside in the build-up and it was chalked off.

City’s dominance continued after the break and it took less than a minute for the pressure to tell as Bernardo Silva ghosted in behind Marcos Alonso to turn David Silva’s cross beyond Thibaut Courtois.

A deluge midway through the second half prevented the hosts from adding further gloss to the victory, but the conditions, and a toothless Chelsea attack, did little to dampen the mood as City edged ever closer to the title.


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