Manchester City celebrated their Premier League title coronation in style with a 1-0 win over a toothless Chelsea at the Eihad.
Following the customary guard of honour from Frank Lampard’s players, a solitary Julian Alvarez effort got the job done for Pep Guardiola’s side before a large-scale pitch invasion.
Thanks to Nottingham Forest’s win over Arsenal the day before, which ensured a third-straight Premier League title for the men in sky blue, Guardiola did not hesitate to make a wealth of changes to his starting XI from their midweek Champions League romping of Real Madrid.
Nine changes handed the likes of Alvarez, Cole Palmer, Stefan Ortega, Sergio Gomez, Phil Foden and the scarcely-seen Kalvin Phillips opportunities to impress, and the former two combined for a deserved opener after just 12 minutes.
Experiencing plenty of joy down the left flank, Palmer burst forward before getting his head up and picking out the run of Alvarez, who clinically fired across Kepa Arrizabalaga and into the bottom corner from just inside the box.
Initially, there was no hint of complacency from Guardiola’s champions as the Etihad party kicked up a notch, although their efforts were helped by a disjointed Chelsea side, as Lampard cut a very bleak figure on the touchline.
City’s defenders barely broke a sweat in the opening half-hour, but the visitors belatedly showed some signs of life towards the end of the first half, and Ortega firstly had to make himself big to thwart ex-Citizens attacker Raheem Sterling with 33 minutes gone.
Conor Gallagher then rattled the post with a 37th minute header before the ball kindly bounced away from danger for Man City, who ultimately got to half time with their one-goal lead intact.
Chelsea continued to show a few flickers of life in the second half, but Man City were inches away from doubling their advantage in the 58th minute, as Phillips met Riyad Mahrez’s free kick with a powerful header but could only strike the inside of the post.
A few warning signs were still present for the hosts, though, as John Stones made a fantastic clearance to prevent Sterling’s shot from trickling over the line in the 64th minute, but the offside flag soon went up anyway.
After City had stopped a goal at one end of the pitch, the champions briefly thought they had their second when Mahrez squared for Alvarez to tap home into an empty net, but the goal was quickly chalked off as the Algerian handled the ball in the build-up.
A couple of late opportunities for Cesar Azpilicueta and Trevoh Chalobah went begging for the Blues, who failed to break down a staunch Citizens backline and quickly made their way off the field – alongside Man City – as fans stormed onto the turf to boos from those in the upper tiers, who were evidently dismayed at the delay to the trophy lift.
Guardiola’s side have now moved onto 88 points for the season, while Chelsea remain in 12th place, one point behind Crystal Palace with a game in hand on their London rivals.
Man City’s penultimate game of the Premier League season takes them to Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday night, one day before Chelsea visit Manchester United at Old Trafford.