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Silva service enough for Man City to beat Chelsea

WINNER: Bernardo Silva celebrates his goal

IT WAS a case of Silva service for the champions-elect as David set up namesake, Bernardo, for Manchester City’s winning goal against Chelsea today (March 4).

The crucial strike came just a minute after half-time to shatter Blues’ boss Antonio Conte’s well laid plans.

It was just too easy for the stylish hosts. They enjoyed 71 per cent possess as last season’s champions were seen off at a canter.

The only danger to City was complacency and on more than one occasion they gave Chelsea a glimpse of goal which would have ruined their good work.

That said, Conte’s men were far too negative. Understandably they did not want to be opened up by the Citizens but they could have offered more as their reign comes to a disappointing end.

As it is, City that will be crowned new top dogs with just another four wins.

Two Belgian superstars went head to head as City slicker Kevin De Bruyne, who has to be a serious contender for the next month’s player of the year gong, came up against compatriot Eden Hazard.

There was only one winner with De Bruyne running the show for Guardiola’s men while Hazard was subbed just before the end.

After last Sunday’s loss to Manchester United, Chelsea boss Conte must have hoped for a positive result in the light and blue half of the city. It never looked like arriving. Chelsea’s cause was not helped by the absence of midfield enforcer N’Golo Kante.

City were fresh from mauling Arsenal twice while winning the League Cup last Sunday and fatigue would appear to be the last thing on their minds.

The first half was real cat and mouse. The home side were at it from the off but had to work hard to find any space as the visitors set up to defend and hit on the counter. It took Conte’s men what seemed an eternity to get past the half way line such was the early City possession.

City’s first glimpse at goal ironically came after a Cesc Fabregas lapse which allowed Sergio Aguero to disturb the Chelsea defence without fully taking advantage.

Then Leroy Sane, a world player of the year in the making, failed with a shot after a nice set-up by De Bruyne’s lobbed pass.

The half was noteworthy for City players’ darting and energetic runs into space; they are gifted footballers but also put in a shift as is demanded by taskmaster Guardiola.

As City pressed, matchwinner Silva had an effort on goal in the 20th minute, after a Sane run, but this time to no avail.

One of the biggest cheers of the day, from the home supporters at least, came when City left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko was booked for upending Victor Moses.

Then it was that man Sane again causing havoc. Towards the end of the half his right-foot shot was blocked on the line by the alert Cesar Azpilicueta.

City kept coming.
Bernardo Silva was wasteful yet again after a Sane run had created a decent opening.

The best the west London outfit could offer was a corner three minutes before the end of the half when Pedro went on a dribble.

Whatever Conte said to his troops during the break fell on deaf ears as City took the lead just a minute after the restart.

David Silva found himself free on the left of the Chelsea penalty box and fired in a wicked cross, Bernardo did the rest.

Chelsea attempted to hit back but never looked likely of parity. Moses had a high, wide and not so handsome shot which in truth summed up the Londoners’ tepid day.

There was still time for David Silva to warm the palms of Thibaut Courtois with a rasping shot.

Sane was the standout player all match and his sublime piece of skill near the end, to put Moses on his backside, belonged to the circus.

Pre-match Conte was of the opinion that Guardiola’s men could reach 100 points for the season, they now need another 22.

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