Pep Guardiola’s men were well below par in the first half but transformed after the break, with substitutes Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez combining for the lone goal, scored by the Algerian on 63 minutes.

Graham Potter’s Chelsea entered the game languishing in tenth place in the table and were expected to face a rigorous test from second placed City, but they had the better of the first half.

Chelsea, however, clashed from the opening minutes, with striker Raheem Sterling sent off after picking up an apparent hamstring injury, replaced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Potter was also without a number of veteran players, including Mason Mount, Reece James, Ben Chilwell and N’Golo Kante.

Play at Stamford Bridge was rudimentary in the opening stages, with the visitors dominating possession but creating little of note.

Chelsea were the first to threaten, on 16 minutes, but City defender John Stones came to the rescue when Christian Pulisic pounced on goal, producing a perfectly timed sliding tackle to deny the USA a forward.

The American was injured in the challenge and was forced to retire minutes later, compounding Chelsea’s problems.

Teenager Carney Chukwuemeka, who replaced Pulisic, almost made an instant impact, but his shot was blocked and Hakim Ziyech’s shot was saved by City goalkeeper Ederson.

Erling Haaland, who has one more Premier League goal this season (21, than all of Chelsea), finished off wide after 38 minutes.

But Chelsea continued to play the more dangerous side and came awfully close to breaking the tie when Chukwuemeka hit the post on 44 minutes.

Guardiola made a double substitution at half-time, bringing on Rico Lewis and Manuel Akanji for Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker as he sought more control.

The visitors immediately settled in and began to dictate the game, with Nathan Ake headfirst into the woodwork, but Chelsea responded well and were inches from taking the lead when Thiago Silva’s shot went wide.

Guardiola brought in Grealish and Mahrez on the hour mark to further refresh his attack.

The decision paid dividends minutes later when Grealish produced an excellent pass from the left and Mahrez drove home from close range.

Potter made his own changes, including bringing in England striker Conor Gallagher, but they could not find an equalizer despite late pressure.

The result leaves City five points behind Arsenal, which dropped points in a 0-0 draw against high-flying Newcastle earlier in the week.

Chelsea now have just one win in their last eight league games and remain 10 points out of the top four.