Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez took advantage of a rare Frank Lampard penalty miss to fire Manchester City to their first Barclays Premier League win in a month.
Manchester City - Y Toure (63), Tevez (85)
Lampard was a kick away from his 200th Chelsea goal when he lined up a second-half spot-kick at the Etihad Stadium but Joe Hart, who stayed on after fouling Demba Ba, saved from his England team-mate. Yaya Toure made Chelsea pay with a fine finish from inside the area and substitute Tevez made victory certain with a long-range effort late on.
The result reduced Manchester United’s lead at the top of the table to 12 points but, perhaps more importantly with the title drifting away, increased City’s advantage over third-placed Chelsea to seven.
Both managers had gone into the game under considerable pressure but City boss Roberto Mancini ended it far happier than Chelsea counterpart Rafael Benitez, who suffered more abuse from fans.
Benitez again put Fernando Torres and John Terry on the bench as he looked to drag City into a battle for second place, also restoring Lampard and Ba among six changes. City were again without captain Vincent Kompany but Mancini opted to flood the midfield by handing Jack Rodwell only his third City start with Sergio Aguero alone up front. He was rewarded with a superb performance from Rodwell.
City made a positive start and continued to control possession with David Silva looking to pull the strings, Yaya Toure getting forward at every opportunity and Rodwell making several powerful runs.
The game’s pivotal moment came in the 50th minute as City switched off at the back and Ba raced on to a long ball.
The Senegalese shrugged off Kolo Toure and clipped the ball past the out-rushing Hart but was brought down as he got tangled in the goalkeeper’s legs.
Referee Andre Marriner immediately pointed to the spot but, importantly, felt Ba was just moving away from goal and did not show Hart a card.
Hart made the most of the reprieve to earn instant redemption by saving from Lampard, who had scored his last 10 spot-kicks, low to his right.
He was in action again seconds later to deal with the resulting corner and City set about making sure Chelsea paid for missing their chance.
Surprisingly, Mancini opted to replace the influential Rodwell with Tevez but the resulting change in shape gave Chelsea more to think about.
The game opened up as Aguero raced through from a James Milner pass and chipped just over before Ramires almost exposed Kolo Toure on the counter at the other end.
City made the decisive breakthrough just after the hour.
Milner found David Silva in the box with a clever reverse pass and his pull-back found Yaya Toure on the edge of the area.
The Ivorian still had much to do but his first two touches took out two defenders and gave him space to curl a superb low finish beyond Petr Cech.
Chelsea made a double change with Lampard making way along with Eden Hazard for Victor Moses and Oscar.
The changes did not bear fruit and it was not long before Torres was introduced for John Obi Mikel.
But it was City’s substitute Tevez who made the most dramatic impact, putting the game beyond the visitors with a superb strike from outside the area five minutes from time.