London (AFP) – Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to an ominous eight points on Wednesday, beating Brentford 1-0 as Chelsea conceded a last-gasp equaliser at home to Brighton.
Phil Foden’s first-half goal was enough to give Pep Guardiola’s champions a 10th consecutive league win as they took full advantage of Chelsea’s slip-up at Stamford Bridge.
The defending champions now have 50 points after 20 matches, putting them eight clear of second-placed Chelsea who are themselves one point ahead of Liverpool, who lost to Leicester on Tuesday.
Brentford created some good scoring opportunities in the opening stages in west London, but it was City who went ahead in the 16th minute when Foden cleverly tucked in a cross from Kevin De Bruyne.
City dominated possession but struggled to produce shots on target and Guardiola looked edgy on the sidelines as his team attempted to see out the win.
They thought they had sealed the three points in the dying minutes when Aymeric Laporte rose to head home but his goal was ruled out by VAR for a marginal offside.
– Chelsea pain –
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea, who kicked off 45 minutes before City, looked poised for victory after Romelu Lukaku gave them a first-half lead but substitute Danny Welbeck struck in stoppage time.
Lukaku started his second spell at Chelsea in style after returning from Inter Milan in August but then struggled with his form and fitness before suffering a bout of coronavirus.
He came off the bench to score in his side’s 3-1 victory at Aston Villa on Sunday and was rewarded with a spot in the starting line-up at Stamford Bridge on a mild December night.
Chelsea wing-back Reece James limped off in the 27th minute with an apparent hamstring injury, to be replaced by Marcos Alonso.
The home side went ahead immediately when Lukaku shook off the attentions of Neal Maupay after a tussle to power a header past goalkeeper Robert Sanchez from a Mason Mount corner.
Brighton’s complaints were waved away as Chelsea — for so long top of the league this season — celebrated.
But Graham Potter’s side came back strongly, with Edouard Mendy forced to push away a fierce Adam Lallana drive.
The impressive Yves Bissouma stung the hands of Mendy early in the second half as the visitors continued to trouble Chelsea.
Minutes later Callum Hudson-Odoi burst forward from his own half but failed to find Mason Mount before Maupay flashed wide at the other end as the game opened up.
It looked as though it was going to be a familiar story for Brighton, who have struggled to score this season, but substitute Welbeck had other ideas, heading home Marc Cucurella’s cross in the 91st minute.
City travel to face fourth-placed Arsenal on Saturday knowing a win would take them 11 points clear of Chelsea, who host Liverpool the following day.
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