Riyad Mahrez stunner helps Manchester City edge to victory over top four rivals Chelsea

Riyad Mahrez’s stunning solo strike handed Manchester City an important 2-1 victory over fellow top-four side Chelsea.

The visiting side took the lead mid-way through the opening half when N’Golo Kante struck home.

But goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Mahrez saw the home side take the lead by the interval - a lead they held on to for the remainder of the game.

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It proved a crucial victory for City, who reduced the points difference between themselves and league leaders Liverpool back to nine points.

Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne switched roles as the striker set up the midfielder, who almost handed the hosts a fourth-minute lead but dragged an effort wide of the far post by inches.

Four minutes later, it was Frank Lampard’s men who had a similar opportunity at the other end - with the same result as Tammy Abraham pushed forward and set up Willian, who dragged wide.

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N'Golo Kante handed Chelsea the lead at the Etihad Stadium. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
N'Golo Kante handed Chelsea the lead at the Etihad Stadium. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

The former Aston Villa loanee then bent an effort wide from the edge of the box before defender Fikayo Tomori slammed an effort just wide from close range, as the visitors increasingly looked the most likely to take the lead.

In the 22nd minute, that prediction became reality. Kante was played through on goal by Mateo Kovacic and squeezed an effort past the returning Ederson, despite pressure from Benjamin Mendy.

It left the home fans frustrated as Pep Guardiola’s men risked falling further behind in the Premier League title race - after Roberto Firmino struck late for Liverpool earlier in the day.

Indeed, as the half continued, murmurs of discontent increased. But shortly before the half-hour mark, they were ended.

De Bruyne picked up the ball from the edge of the box and bent an effort on his left foot, which then wrong-footed Kepa Arrizabalaga with a wicked deflection.

The hosts were lifted and Chelsea’s leaky defence had conceded once more. The same man attempted a similar shot shortly after, only to drive just over the crossbar.

But less than a minute later, City were in front again and any sign of tension was eradicated. Former Leicester winger Mahrez picked up the ball on the right wing, cut inside Emerson and Kovacic before curling an effort inside the far post, having gone through the legs of Tomori.

De Bruyne's deflected effort levelled the scores. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
De Bruyne's deflected effort levelled the scores. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Mahrez then scored a stunning solo goal to put the hosts ahead. (Photo by Manchester City FC/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
Mahrez then scored a stunning solo goal to put the hosts ahead. (Photo by Manchester City FC/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Guardiola’s side might have put the game to bed before half time when Kepa horrifically mishit a clearance straight to Aguero - only for the prolific Argentinian to hit the crossbar with his effort.

Fernandinho had to be at his best to deny the visitors a leveller almost ten minutes after the restart, with the Brazilian blocking Kante’s goal-bound effort from 12 yards.

Cesar Azpilicueta then blocked a shot from Joao Cancelo off the line as the hosts pressed to seal the points, with Kepa also forced into a save from second-half substitute Phil Foden.

The England prodigy then struck wide, before Willian’s delightful volley from the edge of the box forced Ederson into a fine save with ten minutes remaining.

The energetic youngster, who replaced David Silva, might have wrapped up the win when he was played into space in the box, only for his cross to be cleared before it could reach Raheem Sterling.

City fans were left holding their breaths as Mason Mount sent a 30 yard free-kick just wide, before Sterling thought he’d sealed the win seconds later - only to be denied for offside by VAR.

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