Manchester City exacted Champions League final revenge with a deserved 1-0 win against title rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola made four changes from the side that were held by Southampton last weekend, notably handing starts to Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne in midfield, with both men having featured, and scored, in the 6-1 thrashing of Wycombe Wanderers in midweek.
In what was an underwhelming first 45 minutes, it was the visitors who dominated proceedings, albeit with that possession counting for little as they struggled to fashion any major openings, with both sides going in at the break having failed to register a shot on target.
Chelsea had largely been camped inside their own half for much of the opening period, yet, as ever, the European champions defended resolutely to deny their rivals, even after having been disrupted by the withdrawal of England international Reece James due to injury.
The deserved breakthrough did eventually come after the interval, however, as Gabriel Jesus brilliantly worked a yard of space for himself inside the Blues box before squeezing his effort through a line of bodies, with the aid of a slight deflection from Jorginho.
That opener seemed to spark the game into life, with Jesus then denied a second by an excellent block from substitute Thiago Silva on the line, before Romelu Lukaku saw his close-range finish swiftly ruled out for offside.
With a frantic finale in-store, Mateo Kovacic saw his effort deflected wide by a sliding Ruben Dias, while summer signing Jack Grealish then wasted an excellent chance to put the game to bed after firing his effort straight at Edouard Mendy.
City would eventually survive that breathless last half an hour so to hang on for the win, with that victory moving them ahead of their opponents into second place on goal difference.
Phil Foden created more chances than any other player against Chelsea (4).
The same amount of chances as Chelsea created as a team. 😀 pic.twitter.com/tBYpmlvdgU
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 25, 2021
Following the triumph, Guardiola praised his players for an ‘outstanding’ performance against their strong opponents.
“Today the guys were outstanding,” he told BT Sport. “At this stadium and against this opponent, to do what we have done makes me so proud.
“We came here and did our game. Sometimes you can’t do it because the opponent is better. We were encouraged to press high and they could not make the build-up.”
While much of the talk over the summer was about City’s inability to sign a striker – a contrast to Chelsea’s capture of Romelu Lukaku – the match-winner on the day proved to the visitors’ number nine Jesus, with Guardiola full of praise for the hardworking Brazilian.
“Gabriel always gives everything,” he said. “You cannot say anything to him. Every single game he runs for his team-mates. Having these types of players makes me so happy.”
The victory was also all the more special as it confirmed that the 50-year-old has now won more games as Manchester City boss than any manager in the club’s history.
Pep Guardiola has now won more games as Man City boss than any other manager in the club's history:
▪️ 303 games
▪️ 221 wins
▪️ 10 trophies
An incredible 72.9% win rate. 🙇♂ pic.twitter.com/cRfLrsPWzN
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) September 25, 2021
“I’m so proud [about the record],” he said. “We’ve done it at Stamford Bridge at the last Champions League winner. We’ve been magnificent together. It makes me proud, a little bit for myself but especially for the club.”
Man City are next in action against Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday, before they face another tough away test against Liverpool on Sunday.