For 45 minutes Chelsea were under siege, pinned back in their own half by Manchester City. With halftime approaching, Chelsea finally managed a shot from an unlikely source and broke through the impervious champions.
Just when he seemed to be struggling to adapt to a more advanced attacking midfield role, N’Golo Kante got into space in front of goal to be set up by Eden Hazard and sweep the ball into the net.
So wasteful in the first half, City then allowed Chelsea to seize the initiative as their unbeaten start to the Premier League title defence came to an end.
“Everyone wants to beat us,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
David Luiz made sure of that, heading in from Hazard’s corner in the 78th minute to seal Chelsea’s 2-0 win on Saturday.
“It was a great game and we have to be honest, playing against the best team in Europe or the world at the moment,” Luiz said. “They have great players, so we had a lot of humility and tried to take our chances to score, so we did our plan well.”
Not only did City lose for the first time in the league this season but they also lost top spot to Liverpool, who moved a point ahead after Mohamed Salah’s hat trick inspired a 4-0 victory at Bournemouth.
Chelsea still have a lot of work to do to move back into contention. Having lost two of their last three league games before the visit of City, Maurizio Sarri’s fourth-placed side are eight points behind Liverpool. Tottenham remained two points ahead of Chelsea in third place but only six points from top spot after winning 2-0 at Leicester.
The visit of last-placed Fulham allowed Manchester United to end a four-match winless run as Jose Mourinho’s side claimed a 4-1 victory.
Ashley Young struck into the top corner to put United ahead in the 13th minute, Juan Mata slotted in from Marcus Rashford’s cutback in the 28th and Romelu Lukaku ended his 997-minute wait for a goal at Old Trafford in the 42nd.
Substitute Aboubakar Kamara’s penalty reduced the deficit from the spot but Fulham midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s sending off in the 68th was followed by Marcus Rashford netting for United in the 82nd.
The title remains far from United’s thoughts, with Liverpool 16 points ahead.
For the first time this season, Salah scored more than once in a league game. It’s a reminder of how the forward won the Golden Boot last season.
At Bournemouth, Salah broke the deadlock in the 25th minute when he responded to a parried shot. The Egyptian stayed on his feet under a challenge from Steve Cook before drilling home in style, before netting three minutes into the second half.
Cook somehow back-heeled past his own goalkeeper, Asmir Begovic, when trying to clear Andy Robertson’s cross. A mazy dribble preceded Salah completing his hat trick in the 77th.
GAMBLE PAYS OFF
With Tottenham playing at Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday, Mauricio Pochettino gave Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen some rest by starting them on the bench at Leicester.
It paid off, thanks to the contribution of Son Heung-min.
The South Korean struck the opener from long-range on the stroke of halftime and then provided a cross for Dele Alli to head in the second in the 58th minute.
Lucas Torreira acrobatically volleyed into the bottom left corner in the 83rd minute as Arsenal beat Huddersfield 1-0 to extend their club-record unbeaten run to 21 matches in all competitions. Arsenal remained fifth, behind Chelsea on goal difference.
Ralph Hasenhuettl made his presence felt at Southampton with six changes from the side that lost to Tottenham on Wednesday.
But it was a familiar losing story for Mark Hughes’ successor.
Hasenhuettl’s first game in charge was spoiled by Callum Paterson pouncing on a poor back pass to score in the 74th minute for Cardiff.
WEST HAM FIGHTBACK
Crystal Palace have only one win in 11 league games after conceding the lead to lose 3-2 to West Ham in a London derby.
Robert Snodgrass, Felipe Anderson and Javier Hernandez scored for West Ham.
BURNLEY BOUNCE BACK
Burnley registered their first win in nine league matches. Jack Cork hit a shot and the ball went in off James Tarkowski’s chest to give Burnley a 1-0 victory over Brighton.