Gabriel Jesus strike hands Chelsea first defeat of the season in dominant Manchester City display

·22-min read
Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City in action against Chelsea's goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. - Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City in action against Chelsea's goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. - Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
  • Gabriel Jesus' deflected 53rd minute goal the difference between the two sides at Stamford Bridge

  • Manchester City dominate the match as Chelsea fail to get a single shot on target

  • Defeat for Chelsea is their first of this campaign

First a victory over the European champions and now to Paris to take on the club that thinks it should be European champions, although for Manchester City up and running once again one would not rule out victory on Tuesday over the crowded superstar collective at Parc des Princes.

They have inflicted the first defeat on Chelsea since that warm night in Porto in May when Thomas Tuchel’s team rolled with the punches and then picked off City in the second half to win the Champions League. On that occasion Pep Guardiola tried to create his masterpiece but in doing so neglected to select a defensive midfielder. Four months on, this should have been a great game between two of the three best teams in the league. Instead it was one-sided and insipid for large parts.

Guardiola’s team had six starters from the final, although crucially among the other five was Rodri, an orthodox holding midfielder who was himself on this occasion outshone by a new candidate in the deep-lying position, the outstanding Bernardo Silva. For 76 minutes, until Fernandinho came on and Bernardo was edged into a more advanced position, the Portuguese international controlled that critical part of the pitch and in doing so permitted City to control the game.

Control it they did, restricting Chelsea to the grand total of zero attempts on target. The decisive goal itself, struck on the turn by Gabriel Jesus and taking an enormous deflected turn off Jorginho was not their cleanest strike but it was one of five, out of 15 that were on target. The mood was that it was coming from somewhere, with Jack Grealish on the left wearing away Cesar Azpilicueta, asked to patrol that wing after the first half injury to Reece James forced his withdrawal.

Manchester City players (L-R) Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, and Jack Grealish celebrate after winning the English Premier League - Shutterstock
Manchester City players (L-R) Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, and Jack Grealish celebrate after winning the English Premier League - Shutterstock

“When we win the manager is a genius,” Guardiola replied with his customary pseudo-gloom to the question about his selection. He poured praise on Tuchel, the manager who had beaten him on three occasions before now, but on this afternoon was a long way from that standard. City dominated the game and they did so without the conventional centre-forward. This time it was Phil Foden who was asked to do the old No 9 conjuring act against a three-man defence, while the real pressure came down the sides from Grealish and Jesus.

This was a Chelsea performance that never truly commenced. Mateo Kovacic lost the midfield in the first half, while Romelu Lukaku was never in the game. N’golo Kante was substituted in the first hour. Antonio Rudiger tried to pick the occasional argument and then late in the match Fernandinho, on as a substitute, made sure that the Chelsea man had something to remember the game by. Hard not to think of the German’s part in his collision with Kevin De Bruyne in the final in May as he picked himself off the turf.

Tuchel would be heavily critical of his side afterwards, wondering whether they “lacked belief and confidence” to escape the positions that City put them in. “With every mistake we lost more and more confidence,” he said. “We defended very well in the box and in the goal but of course it was too deep.” He said that “part of any performance is to make the opponent under-perform.” “This is what City did to us,” he said. “They were strong and sharp with better positions.”

As City embark for their first Champions League collision with Paris Saint Germain, so the defending champions play Juventus in Turin on Wednesday with much to think about for their manager. They have not looked as vulnerable as they did on this occasion for some time. It certainly seemed that Tuchel had once again decided that they could afford to have less of the ball and use Lukaku and Werner on the counterattack. “When we reached Romelu the attack was already half over,” Tuchel said, “and there was simply no belief or connection”.

This victory took Guardiola to 221 wins for his Manchester City career, unsurprisingly he now has the most of any manager in the club’s history. He surpasses Les McDowall, the India-born son of a Scottish missionary, who was in charge for the post-war years when Sir Matt Busby’s Manchester United were resurgent and under McDowall City still managed to win an FA Cup in 1956. McDowall’s thoughts on the deployment of defensive midfielders in major finals may have been lost in time, but his successor seems to have changed his view on the best way to beat this Chelsea team.

Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola gestues during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in London on September 25, 2021.  - AFP
Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola gestues during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in London on September 25, 2021. - AFP

Guardiola stuck to a familiar tone after the game, maintaining that his side will always pursue a purity of purpose in the hope that results will follow. “For me the way we play, the courage and the personality, we have never lost [in that respect] from the first day we were here.” Certainly there was no doubting City’s purpose in taking control of this game which they dominated until the late stages when the home team had no alternative but to push forward for the equaliser.

The Jesus goal was created when Rodri’s shot was stopped by his team-mate on the edge of the box and Jesus manoeuvred enough space for him to shoot through a crowd of legs. It looked like the touch off Jorginho was the one that deceived Edouard Mendy although it should never have been an option for the City man to find the room to shoot.

There were other chances, the best from Grealish who edged his way into the box on 58 minutes, drawing Azpilicueta into a small misjudgment and then seeing his shot pushed just wide by Mendy. The loss of James to a twisted ankle in the first half meant that Chelsea’s captain was given the job of trying to corral Grealish down the left wing and there was no love lost between the two. By the time Grealish was replaced by Raheem Sterling with a few minutes left you could see by the smile on his face that he had done his job.

Tuchel made changes to no avail, first Kai Havertz and then that great homegrown lost soul Ruben Loftus-Cheek, on for Jorginho with around 15 minutes to play. Both sides were stacked with talent on the benches but Tuchel must have seen something in Loftus-Cheek’s performances in training to send him on ahead of the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech. There were a couple of nice carries with the ball but when the final whistle blew, the embarrassment for Chelsea is that they were still waiting for their first decent chance.

02:17 PM

A fully-deserved victory for the Premier League champions which leaves Thomas Tuchel with a lot to think about

Tuchel's three-match winning streak against Guardiola ends.

His team travel to Turin this week for their Champions League tie with Juventus, and Manchester City are off to Paris to face PSG.

Thomas Tuchel. - Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Thomas Tuchel. - Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Romelu Lukaku of Chelsea  - Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
Romelu Lukaku of Chelsea - Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
Phil Foden of Manchester City in action with Edouard Mendy of Chelsea. - Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Phil Foden of Manchester City in action with Edouard Mendy of Chelsea. - Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Ruben Dias of Manchester City interacts with Antonio Ruediger of Chelsea. - Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Ruben Dias of Manchester City interacts with Antonio Ruediger of Chelsea. - Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

02:01 PM

Guardiola and Tuchel react

01:41 PM

Chelsea's first defeat of the season

A lack of intensity from Chelsea today. They couldn't match City's relentless pressing and they were outgunned in midfield.

The attacking duo of Werner and Lukaku had a couple of drives forward, but they couldn't find consistency and were quickly snuffed out by the City defence.

01:37 PM

A huge day in Manchester as Villa defeat United in the other early kick-off

Bruno Fernandes missed a 93rd-minute penalty as Aston Villa beat Manchester United 0-1 at Old Trafford.

01:26 PM

FULL TIME: CHELSEA 0-1 MANCHESTER CITY

The deflected goal by Jesus shortly after half-time was the difference today. It opened the game up, and both sides had further chances.

But in the end, Manchester City were the better side. A champions performance at Stamford Bridge.

Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker of Manchester City celebrate their team's victory in the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester City. - Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images
Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker of Manchester City celebrate their team's victory in the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester City. - Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

01:23 PM

95 mins

Not quite... another free kick now for a foul on Lukaku by Dias near the halfway line.

01:22 PM

94 mins

Last chance free kick for Chelsea. The whole team is up there, but they can't get through. City on the counter now.

01:21 PM

92 mins

Time running out for Chelsea... City are still pressing high in a frantic final few minutes.

01:19 PM

88 mins

A fantastic punch by Ederson to deny Havertz who is almost in... both players have gone down as we're on the cusp of hearing how much added time there is going to be.

Four minutes added time.

01:17 PM

Here are those Manchester City subs...

01:16 PM

87 mins

A wrestle between Lukaku and Rúben Dias as a searching Chelsea cross comes in from the right hand side. The City defender does brilliantly there to deny the Chelsea striker.

01:14 PM

85 mins

Some real battles going on. Both teams are pressing closely as City look to secure there lead and Chelsea are looking to avoid defeat.

A couple of City substitutes for the final few minutes.

01:12 PM

82 mins

Huge save from Mendy to deny Grealish. He makes himself big, and Grealish tries to swing it round him.

What a chance for City there!

01:10 PM

81 mins

Chelsea on the counter attack now. Havertz gets a cross in from the right hand side and it's dropped perfectly into the danger zone, but the City rearguard kicks in to get it away.

01:08 PM

78 mins

Laporte, just off target! A great ball in from De Bruyne comes to Laporte who makes a surging run to the far post and stabs it just wide.

01:04 PM

75 mins - sub

It's Loftus-Cheek on for Jorginho.

01:02 PM

Here's that goal from Gabriel Jesus...

01:00 PM

70 mins

Rúben Dias with a vital block after Chelsea hit City on the counter attack.

It's Kovacic who gets the shot away, but Rúben Dias comes across the box with a sliding block to put the ball out for a corner.

This is much more like it. End-to-end here at Stamford Bridge.

12:57 PM

67 mins

City with an incredible chance to double their lead.

It comes again from an attack on that left hand side. Grealish gets a searching ball across the box, which comes to Jesus. His shot is blocked, and there's a follow-up, but that is cleared by the Chelsea defence.

12:54 PM

64 mins - Yellow card

To Laporte for a foul on Lukaku. Chelsea free kick now just outside the box. This could be interesting...

Alonso takes it, but it hits the wall and it's out for a corner.

12:52 PM

62 mins

Disallowed goal for Chelsea. Havertz is well offside and Lukaku's goal won't stand. No need for VAR there.

This game has really opened up now. The dynamic has completely changed since that City goal and Chelsea are looking more lively. Game on!

12:48 PM

59 mins - Chelsea sub

12:47 PM

57 mins

Jack Grealish! Almost a second there for City. Grealish works his way into the box on the left hand side and there's just enough space to get a shot away into the far post. Mendy does well to stretch and push it out for a corner.

12:42 PM

CHELSEA 0-1 MANCHESTER CITY

Great work by Cancelo to win a corner. It's taken by De Bruyne, and the ball comes again to Cancelo for a drive.

It drops to Jesus who is able to swing around and get a shot away which is slightly deflected but well beyond Mendy.

12:39 PM

49 mins

Werner picks up the ball at the halfway line on the right hand side of the pitch. He looks up, but there's no-one there. Lukaku is miles away and there are no short pass options. He gets hounded by three City defenders and what could have been a stinging counter attack comes to nothing.

12:37 PM

47 mins

Grealish with a great opportunity! He's just inside the box and has enough space to get a curling shot away after some intelligent work from Cancelo to drag Azpilicueta away. Just wide!

12:34 PM

Teams back out for the second half

And we're back underway. No changes at half-time.

Will we see a bit more of an attacking mentality from Chelsea to open up this encounter?

12:32 PM

No goals in the other early kick-off

It's Manchester United 0-0 Aston Villa.

12:21 PM

HALF TIME: CHELSEA 0-0 MANCHESTER CITY

A cagey first half comes to an end. City have dominated the possession, but neither side have had a shot on target.

Not the classic we were hoping for, but this could all change in the second half.

Will Tuchel be tempted to change from the counter-attacking strategy which has so far been quickly snuffed out?

Can City capitalise on their possession and finally find a way through?

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus scores their first goal. - Reuters/John Sibley
Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus scores their first goal. - Reuters/John Sibley

12:17 PM

45 mins

Two minutes added time. The crowd here at Stamford Bridge are getting restless. They're wanting to see more attacking football from their side. Will Tuchel change things up at half time?

12:12 PM

40 mins

Foden puts a beautifully flighted ball into Jesus in the Chelsea box, but he catches it awkwardly with his shoulder and his volley goes high and wide.

City keep knocking, yet still no shots on target for either side.

12:09 PM

37 mins

The ball goes back to Mendy yet again as this City high press continues. City get back in possession and are looking comfortable passing around the Chelsea half waiting patiently for a gap to open up.

De Bruyne eventually gets a shot away, but it's high and wide.

12:05 PM

33 mins

Foden whips in a deep corner from the right hand side; it's met by Jorginho who stays sharp as Foden's follow-up pass is denied.

12:03 PM

30 mins

De Bruyne manages to get a shot away just inside the box. He's threaded through by Kyle Walker, but just too many Chelsea shirts in the way.

There's been no space at all when they get into the Chelsea box.

12:00 PM

28 mins

And off James comes. Thiago Silva is on.

He'll slot into the Chelsea back three; Azpilicueta will move into the wing-back position.

11:58 AM

26 mins

Reece James has gone down now. He had a crunching challenge with Grealish earlier and hasn't looked the same since. A short break in play while he receives medical attention. Chelsea subs are warming up so we may see a change...

11:56 AM

25 mins

De Bruyne with a pacey corner, but a solid punch from Mendy after coming under heavy pressure. Terrific goalkeeping.

11:55 AM

22 mins

It's looking like Chelsea are playing a flat back five now, they've been pushed back that much.

Yet they're not looking too quick on the counter either: City are straight back onto them. Very impressive pressing from City so far. Werner and Lukaku are staying together at the top ready for some two-on-two chances.

11:49 AM

17 mins - Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City

Timo Werner gets himself onto the left side of the box and gets a thunderous shot away. It looks on target, but it's blocked - twice - by the Man City defence. Out for a corner.

11:46 AM

14 mins - Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City

Chelsea on the counter attack! Clearance from the Man City high press. Two on two, Werner squares it Lukaku who manages to muscle himself into the box, but he can't get enough on it.

11:45 AM

13 mins - Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City

Jesus picks up a napping Kovacic to win the ball just outside the D, but that Chelsea defence is again straight onto him and there's no way through.

11:43 AM

11 mins - Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City

Chelsea are yet to really get going. City are pressing quite high and keeping them pegged back. Any hints of an attack have been quickly snuffed out before the final third.

11:37 AM

5 mins

Early possession has been dominated by the visitors. They've had a couple of half chances coming from the right flank, but Azpilicueta has looked very comfortable dealing with the opening attacks.

11:34 AM

2 mins

First corner goes to City after a challenging cross is headed away by Azpilicueta.

It comes to nothing in the end.

11:32 AM

A reminder of the starting line-ups:

Chelsea: Mendy, James, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic, Werner, Lukaku

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva, Foden, Grealish, Jesus

11:31 AM

And we're away

Here we go!

11:30 AM

What difference will Lukaku be today?

He starts alongside Timo Werner today in what looks like a fascinating forward partnership.

11:27 AM

The players are coming out the tunnel...

An electric atmosphere at Stamford Bridge to watch the champions of Europe against the champions of England.

11:25 AM

The warm-ups are over.... just a few minutes to go

Warm-up - Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Warm-up - Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Lukaku - Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Lukaku - Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Kevin De Bruyne - Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Kevin De Bruyne - Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Scott Carson of Manchester City interacts with Ederson - Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images
Scott Carson of Manchester City interacts with Ederson - Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

11:10 AM

A quick eye on the other lunchtime kick-off. Here's how United and Villa are lining up at Old Trafford:

11:01 AM

Chelsea's impenetrable defence has only conceded one league goal this season

This is the lowest total at this stage since 2010... but then they lost their sixth match to City.

Carlos Tevez, the City talisman at the time, was the difference that day in a closely fought 1-0.

10:47 AM

How Thomas Tuchel studied Pep Guardiola's 'playbook' to become Manchester City's nemesis

Tuchel delivered three punishing blows to Guardiola in just six weeks at the end of last season. First in the FA Cup semi-final in April, then in the Premier League in May before that particularly painful Champions League final defeat.

Jason Burt reports on how Chelsea's head coach regularly picked Spaniard's brain while in Germany - and now seems to have the upper hand on his rival.

10:35 AM

And the hosts:

10:34 AM

The team news is in. Here's how City are deploying:

10:31 AM

Hello and welcome to our coverage

Pep Guardiola has challenged his Manchester City players to ensure missing out on Harry Kane does not prove the difference in the Premier League title race after admitting their rivals all have the luxury of specialist goalscoring “weapons” at their disposal.

City face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this lunchtime for the first time since losing to Thomas Tuchel’s side in the Champions League final in May in what marks the start of a crunch week for Guardiola’s men with games away to Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool to follow.

It was Tuchel’s third successive victory over City as Chelsea manager, since when the West London club have added Romelu Lukaku to their squad following the Belgium striker’s £97.5 million move from Inter Milan.

Guardiola is convinced Lukaku’s arrival will make Chelsea even stronger and admits that City, having failed to sign Kane from Tottenham, do not have a prolific striker like the Belgian, Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United or Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.

City looked in need of such a player during last weekend’s goalless draw at home to Southampton but Guardiola is banking on his team again sharing the burden in front of goal and making light of having no specialist No. 9.

“I completely agree with you,” the City manager said when it was suggested top strikers could make the difference in title race where the margins are so small.

“Strikers are strikers. They live a little bit outside the team bubble and for themselves. But these are the most difficult players to take.

“We had the privilege to have Sergio [Aguero] for many years. Unfortunately for the last year and a half he was out with injuries and we could not use him much. We survived without him in a good way in the way we played.

“There are two options that we have right now: complaining, or saying we have exceptional players. We don’t have this weapon that others teams have like Chelsea, United, Tottenham or other teams so we have to use what we can do as a team.

“We don’t have a player to score 25 league goals for himself so we have to do it as a team. This is what we will try this season.

“I’m not going to deny what a player Romelu Lukaku is. The [Chelsea] team was already so strong and with him it is now stronger. It is a stronger team than last season but this is the challenged. I’m not going to say I’m sad or disappointed with the squad we have.

“You will not hear me moaning for one single moment in this season, complaining that we don’t have this player because … these players have taken this club to another step and I’m still fascinated by the way they train, their commitment and that for me is enough.”

Guardiola said he watched the Champions League final back in the weeks after the game and again in preparation for today’s (SAT) match and is clear about where City need to improve against Chelsea.

“The decision is made in the moment so I have no regrets,” he said. “We are going to try to learn, to try to improve. We missed a little bit to be more precise in the last third of the game, we lost the second balls, the transitions were so good and they were able to regain the ball and made quick transitions, because their defensive structure was so good.

“They controlled all departments and that is why the final of the Champions League was so difficult against an exceptional team.

“We played with courage and personality and we tried to do it but unfortunately in the long balls, counter attacks, second balls they were better than us and they beat us.”

By James Ducker

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