Manchester City eased to victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in Saturday evening’s Premier League clash.
Despite the Blues starting off the better side, the Citizens proved unstoppable on the counter-attack, with Sergio Aguero grabbing a hat-trick to move above Arsenal into third.
Thibaut Courtois was sent off late on in the second half, capping off a miserable afternoon for Guus Hiddink’s men.
Diego Costa thought he’d opened the scoring in the 10th minute, latching on to Abdul Baba Rahman’s challenge on Jesus Navas from deep, only for the linesman to flag offside.
The chance lifted the Blues, who quickly began to dominate possession.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek was the next player to go close, skilfully turning away from Nicolas Otamendi on the edge of the box and attempting to beat Joe Hart at his far post. The England international’s fingertips sent the strike wide.
Chelsea were in control for the opening 20 minutes, looking dangerous and linking up well in the final third, causing problems for defensive duo Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala.
In the 24th minute, however, when the home side looked the more likely to score, former Blues midfielder Kevin De Bruyne came close after a fine ball from Yaya Toure.
The Ivorian orchestrated a quick counter-attack, playing De Bruyne in through the defence, but Thibaut Courtois stood tall, blocking his international team-mate’s low effort.
It was only a matter of time before Chelsea were made to pay for failing to take their chances, and it was City’s top scorer Aguero who got the ball rolling.
John Obi Mikel’s poor control in midfield allowed De Bruyne to burst forward on the right flank, pulling the ball back to the Argentine on the edge of the box, with a kind deflection sending the pass into the striker’s path. The striker neatly controlled before evading Gary Cahill’s challenge and sending his shot past Courtois into the bottom-right corner in the 33rd minute.
Despite taking the lead, Manuel Pellegrini will not have been satisfied with his side’s performance, particularly as their place in the Premier League’s top four is far from guaranteed.
The second half began as the first ended. Chelsea had an early chance to equalise, with Pedro breaking forward on the left flank, but Loftus-Cheek couldn’t control the Spaniard’s ball into the box.
And minutes later, the Champions League semi-finalists’ had doubled their lead, with Aguero getting his second of the game.
The Blues were dispossessed in the final third, allowing De Bruyne to effortlessly set up yet another blistering counter-attack. The 24-year-old quickly surged forward before sending the ball into the path of Samir Nasri. The latter played Aguero in who slotted his strike past Courtois after easing past Branislav Ivanovic and Cahill.
Following the goal, the Citizens sat back, gifting Chelsea possession, clearly feeling confident they could now see the game out.
And there was further misery for Hiddink’s side when Courtois was shown a red card after bringing Fernandinho down in the box.
Aguero went on to grab his hat-trick from the subsequent spot kick, sending Courtois’ replacement Asmir Begovic the wrong way and sealing three points for Manchester City.