Bernardo Silva scored the only goal as Manchester City took another stride towards the Premier League title with a 1-0 victory over lacklustre Chelsea.
The scoreline did not reflect City’s dominance of a one-sided contest at the Etihad Stadium, with fading champions Chelsea offering little as they slipped to a fourth defeat in five league games.
The visitors did at least make City dig deep for their victory as, playing without a recognised striker they sat back, but Silva’s 46th-minute breakthrough was no less than the hosts deserved.
It extended City’s lead at the top of the table to 18 points and left them only four wins from the title, while Chelsea were cut five points adrift of the top four in fifth place.
It was an emotional occasion for Chelsea boss Antonio Conte following the sudden death of his former Italy international player Davide Astori. The Italian wore a black armband in tribute.
Tactically, his approach was limited with Eden Hazard playing up front as a false nine and Alvaro Morata on the bench. Chelsea were also without their midfield talisman N’Golo Kante through illness and his absence showed as City completely dominated possession in the first half.
City boss Pep Guardiola, his yellow ribbon again briefly visible before covering it up with a scarf, watched as City controlled possession and Chelsea struggled to cross the halfway line.
Sergio Aguero, chasing his 200th City goal, had the hosts’ first attempt on goal but Antonio Rudiger blocked his shot.
Aguero then teed up Silva after one of several mazy runs by the impressive Leroy Sane but the Portuguese curled just over the bar.
Another moment of magic from Sane almost yielded a goal as he showed equisite control to bring down a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick but Cesar Azpilicueta blocked on the line.
City did get the ball in the net before the break but Nicolas Otamendi’s tap-in was ruled out for offside against Aguero.
Chelsea showed little ambition and they threatened just once in the first half.
Referee Michael Oliver played advantage after a Oleksandr Zinchenko caught Victor Moses with a late tackle and Willian forced Ederson to save with his feet. Zinchenko was eventually booked for the challenge but some may argue that was lenient and, after a number of other rash challenges, he was perhaps fortunate not to see a red card.
City were rewarded for their superiority within a minute of the restart. Aguero regained possession on the edge of the box and found the outstanding David Silva on the left. The Spaniard’s cross was turned in by his namesake Bernardo at the far post.
That finally stirred Chelsea into action and a Cesc Fabregas break created an opening for Moses but he shot into the side-netting.
City upped the tempo and David Silva twice tried his luck, first forcing a save from Thibaut Courtois and then seeing an effort deflected for a corner.
Conte finally decided to introduce a striker after 78 minutes, but it was Olivier Giroud, and not Morata, that initially got the call. Morata entered the fray in the last minute but Chelsea’s last chance came and went as Marcos Alonso sliced wide.