Sports Desk, Jan 5 (EFE).- A goal by Riyad Mahrez proved enough for Manchester City to beat hosts Chelsea 1-0 Thursday and improve to 39 points, 5 behind Premier League leaders Arsenal as the season nears the mid-point.
The Blues, meanwhile, have won only one of their last eight league contests and find themselves 10th in the table.
It was City’s first match in four since the World Cup break not to feature a goal by Erling Haaland, though the Norwegian striker remains on a record-shattering pace.
Missing eight first-team players going into the game at Stanford Bridge, Chelsea lost two more starters inside the first 20 minutes.
Former City man Raheem Sterling went down in the 3rd minute with an apparent hamstring injury and US international Christian Pulisic was unable to continue after taking a knock in the 17th.
Yet the Blues were the better side for long stretches of the first half and only a timely block by John Stones stopped Carney Chukwuemeka from putting Chelsea ahead just two minutes after replacing Pulisic.
The Cityzens’ first shot came in the 33rd minute, an effort by Ilkay Gündogan that went wide before Haaland fired over the cross-bar.
Ederson snagged a Hakim Ziyech cross in the 42nd minute, but needed help from the post to deny Chukwuemeka two minutes later.
Manchester City were much better after the break, creating a series of chances. Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne forced stops from Kepa and Nathan Ake hit the post.
With the score still 0-0 at the hour mark, Pep Guardiola made a double-substitution: replacing Bernardo Silva with Mahrez and Phil Foden with Jack Grealish.
Less than four minutes later, Mahrez met a cross from Grealish and blasted the ball past Kepa to break the deadlock.
With his bench depleted, Graham Potter turned to teenagers Omari Giraud-Hutchinson – making his Chelsea debut – and Lewis Hall, along with England international Conor Gallagher, in search of a spark.
Gallagher showed plenty of energy and initiative and Hall managed a shot, but City took all 3 points. EFE apa/dr