Kevin De Bruyne (L) avoids a challenge by Chelsea's French midfielder N'Golo Kante | AFP
Manchester: Kevin De Bruyne curled home a brilliant second-half goal to earn Manchester City a 1-0 win over Chelsea and a 13-point lead over its nearest rival in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Belgium midfielder collected a pass from Joao Cancelo deep in Chelsea's half, drove forward, and found the bottom corner with a shot from just outside the area.
It gave City a 12th straight win on its relentless march toward a sixth title in 11 years, with third-place Liverpool now the team with likely the best chance of catching Pep Guardiola’s side at 14 points behind but with two games in hand.
“We’ve been in a situation where we’ve been eight or 10 points ahead but also eight or 10 points behind," De Bruyne said. “We know it can change very quickly.”
The goal also would have given De Bruyne a certain sense of personal satisfaction, being a former Chelsea player — he was sold in 2014 without making a mark at Stamford Bridge — and considering the anguish he suffered by being forced off with a head injury during the Champions League final loss to Thomas Tuchel's team last season.
City dominated the majority of an intense game at Etihad Stadium, stopping second-place Chelsea from having a shot in the first half and seeing Jack Grealish squander the best chance before halftime when his shot was deflected behind by the outstretched leg of goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Romelu Lukaku had Chelsea's best opportunity at the start of the second half, but Ederson saved the striker's curling shot after he had been played through. Otherwise, the visitors were penned back inside their own half by City's press and control of the ball.
“It’s been like this lately against Chelsea since they played under Tuchel, and even (Antonio) Conte," De Bruyne said. “You won’t get five clear-cut chances against them. Sometimes you need to stay patient and that’s what we did otherwise the game gets stretched and that makes it more difficult for us.”
Tuchel was satisfied with Chelsea's defensive performance but complained of a lack of “precision” and “composure” up front, saying it was not just a case of failing to get good service to Lukaku.
“Sometimes he has to do the service," Tuchel said of Lukaku, who recently apologized for giving an interview in which he indicated he had issues with the coach’s style of play. “He had many ball losses and a huge chance. Of course we want to serve him but he’s part of the team.”