Chelsea’s top four hopes took a blow this afternoon, after a defeat away to Manchester City handed Tottenham a chance to climb above them in the league table.
The Blues managed to contain Mancini’s men in the first half, Petr Cech coming up with a number of big saves, but they failed to create any goal scoring opportunities of their own.
Manchester City’s quality shone through in the second half, going ahead soon after Chelsea failed to capitalise from the penalty spot, and a second goal late on dashed any hope of a comeback.
John Terry was dropped to the bench with David Luiz taking his place in central defence, whilst John Obi Mikel made his first Chelsea start since returning from international duty.
Yaya Toure looked to test Cech early on, but his shot from the edge of the box was a weak one.
Man City pushed forward in numbers, Obi Mikel was influential as he dispossessed Aguero in the final third to break down an attack.
Chelsea’s early forays were repelled by the City defence, but Mata and Lampard both looked lively on the ball.
Peter Cech came up with a vital save in the 15th minute, denying Nastasic as he parried his point blank header away from the face of goal.
Ramires found himself on the end of a forceful tackle by Jack Rodwell, referee Andre Marriner not deeming the challenge worthy of a caution.
Man City continued to stream forward, dominating possession, but steadfast defending in and around the box prevented them from getting shots on target.
Chelsea finally worked themselves back into proceedings with a nice spell in the opposition half, moving the ball quickly in an attempt to find an opening.
Sloppy defending from the home side lead to two free kick opportunities from range, but Mata’s delivery from the first was sub-par and Lampard’s shot from the second went astray.
City looked less threatening as the game progressed, but Chelsea were having to concentrate on keeping the opposition quiet and rarely had the time or space to carve out any chances themselves.
A sumptuous one-two move by Milner and Aguero lead to an opportunity for Zabaleta as half-time approached, but Gary Cahill managed to block the Argentine fullback’s shot.
Jack Rodwell had an effort from range, but Cech comfortably tipped the ball over the bar.
The Englishman was in the thick of things at the resulting corner, loosing his marker and getting a header on target, but Cech rose to the occasion once again and made the save.
Man City went into the break frustrated by Chelsea’s defending, but content with their own clear ascendancy in attack.
As the second half began, City looked to assert themselves from the get go. David Silva made a surging run down the left flank and delivered a solid cross to Sergio Aguero in the box, but the Argentine fluffed his shot.
Eden Hazard tried his luck from distance, getting a shot on target but failing to put City keeper Joe Hart under too much pressure.
Chelsea were presented with a huge opportunity after Demba Ba was adjudged to have been brought down in the box by Hart, resulting in a penalty kick.
Lampard drove the penalty hard, low and left, but Hart came up trumps with a great diving save to deny the Chelsea man his 200th goal for the club.
Jack Rodwell was removed by Roberto Mancini in the 53rd minute, striker Carlos Tevez coming on in his place.
Aguero had an opportunity to round the keeper soon after, but Gary Cahill rose to the occasion and came up with a brilliant block inside the box.
City had a lightning fast break on the hour mark, winning the ball in their own half after a Chelsea corner and looking to spring the counter. Carlos Tevez, however, dallied on the ball, allowing John Obi Mikel to break up the move.
Yaya Toure finally found the breakthrough for City in the 62nd minute. After a cut-back from David Silva he found himself free on the edge of the box, he drove forward, getting the better of Mikel and curling the ball around Cahill and Cech to put the Sky Blues ahead.
Rafael Benitez made two changes in the 67th minute, replacing Frank Lampard with Victor Moses and bringing on Oscar in place of Eden Hazard.
Chelsea’s efforts to find an equaliser were disjointed, and the home side were content to hold onto their lead.
Mikel was replaced by Fernando Torres late on, a last, desperate throw of the dice by Benitez.
Carlos Tevez fired in a second goal in the 85th minute, his scorcher of a shot
getting the better of Cech and putting the match to bed.
Sergio Aguero and David Silva were withdrawn late on, as the match entered a
four minute spell of injury time. Samir Nasri and Jolean Lescott came on
in their stead.
Chelsea pushed forward in vain as the game petered out, and the referees whistle blew to confirm the result.
After being outclassed by an opponent superior in every department, it is absolutely vital that Chelsea rebound quickly. With Tottenham now a game in hand away from going third and Arsenal looming, the margins have just gotten a whole lot tighter.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Ramires, Mikel (Torres 80), Lampard (Moses 67), Hazard (Oscar 67), Mata, Ba
Unused Substitutes: Turnbull, Terry, Azpilicueta, Bertrand