Manchester City 0 Chelsea 2: City Dunne and dusted by Chelsea

Own goal helps Londoners keep up pressure on Manchester United as Eriksson's team look forward to end of season

Chelsea have five matches to catch Manchester United at the top of the Premier League, and if they are all as easy as this they will have every chance of succeeding. This makes it eightgoals for and none conceded against Manchester City this season; who needs friends with opponents like these?

This was a stroll on a cool but sunny afternoon for Avram Grant's team against a City side who have won one match in their last seven and who, apart from a 15-minute spell before half-time, looked like they cannot wait for the season to end. Slow, sloppy and dull, just about the only imagination anyone with Sky Blue affiliation showed came from the announcer on the public address system, who billed the start of the second half as "the push for Europe". Push for mid-table mediocrity more like.

City gave the visitors a goal start when Richard Dunne put through his own goal after six minutes, and although Michael Johnson had a shot cleared off the line they never seriously suggested they would discomfort Chelsea. Instead the visitors made the points safe when Salomon Kalou dribbled round Joe Hart in the 53rd minute.

The romp pushes Chelsea, who rested Ricardo Carvalho, Claude Makelele and Didier Drogba, to two points behind United, who face Middlesbrough this afternoon, and ensured they will go into Tuesday's Champions' League quarter-final second leg against Fenerbahce with two prizes very much in mind.

"Now we have to hope for a good result at Middlesbrough," Grant said. "I never know whether it's better to play first or second but I know it's always best to play first and win."

The City manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, also struck a positive note. "I'm less depressed than I was a week ago," he said, referring to the lame 3-1 defeat at Birmingham City. "It was impor-tant for the players to know they can play good football against a team like Chelsea."

City lost 6-0 at Stamford Bride in October so the portents were not good, and they looked even less promising after six minutes. They had endured almost unceasing Chelsea possession without alarm when Michael Essien moved forward and then passed to Nicolas Anelka on the right. Even then, there seemed little danger from a low cross until Dunne slid in to clear but instead thumped the ball past his own goalkeeper from10 yards.

Chelsea would have taken advantage of more sloppiness in the home rearguard but for two immaculate tackles on Anelka from Nedum Onuoha. It appeared City were dozing their way to another reverse until they woke up after half an hour and could have scored twice. First Juliano Belletti stopped a goal-bound shot from Stephen Ireland, then Ashley Cole cleared off his line from Johnson.

Despite the number of incidents round the goalmouths, the first half had been played at a pedestrian pace, but the introduction of Joe Cole for the disappointing Shaun Wright-Phillips brought an injection of thought if not pace and a notable sense of urgency from Chelsea. Their second goal, after 53 minutes, came almost immediately after the substitution when Essien placed a clever through- pass that deflected off Dunne into the path of Kalou. The Ivory Coast striker coolly went round Hart and rolled the ball intothe net.

Suddenly the shackles were off Chelsea and they could have scored twice more within two minutes. First Hart flicked the ball away from Anelka's feet as he bore down on goal, then the City goalkeeper tipped Anelka's header on to the bar and recovered well to scoop away from his line when the ball hit his back.

After that Chelsea could ease up with Fenerbahce in mind, secure that the gauntlet has been thrown in the champions' direction. Who will win the title? The answer from the City manager was unexpected. "If I had a £10 bet," Eriksson said, "it would be on United."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions