Chelsea boss Antonio Conte acknowledged that his side have taken a giant stride towards regaining their Premier League crown after overpowering Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Playmaker Eden Hazard netted twice, either side of a Sergio Aguero leveller, as Chelsea recovered from Saturday’s surprise home defeat to Crystal Palace and severely, perhaps terminally, dented any lingering City hopes of a title charge.
Chelsea looked to be heading 10 points clear at the league’s summit before Tottenham’s late comeback at Swansea but, nevertheless, retain a cushion of seven. Fourth-placed City are 14 points adrift of the runaway leaders.
“For sure, it is another step, a big step,” said Conte.
“Manchester City are very difficult to play against but we showed how to be a great team, to win a difficult game after a defeat. It wasn’t easy to reply very well in this game.
“I am very satisfied but now we must continue and try to recover for Saturday [against Bournemouth]. We must think that Tottenham could win all their games. We need 18 points to win the title.”
Guardiola appeared to take solace in defeat, although City will be looking over their shoulders at Arsenal and Manchester United, who are both four points outside the Champions League places with a game in hand.
“We come here to Stamford Bridge and play the way we have, with huge personality – I’m a lucky guy to manage these guys,” said the Spaniard. “It’s encouraging for the future. I’m optimistic.
“We created enough to score goals. It’s our problem. It’s been like this all season but in the boxes we are not good enough.”
Chelsea opened the scoring on 10 minutes when an unmarked Hazard fired a cutback towards goal at the first attempt, which squirmed through City goalkeeper Willy Caballero after taking a deflection off Vincent Kompany.
City equalised a quarter of an hour later as Aguero forced home the rebound after Silva’s fizzed effort was repelled by Thibaut Courtois, who made a temporary amends following his hashed clearance which gifted possession to the visitors.
Parity was short-lived as the Blues regained the lead when Pedro was scythed down by Fernandinho and Hazard pounced and side-footed home the rebound after his weary penalty was saved by Caballero.
Chelsea were comfortable in the second period until injury-time when a stretching Aguero forced Courtois into evasive action, while from Silva’s resulting corner John Stones scooped over from close-range with the goal gaping.