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Mourinho's Chelsea outwit Pellegrini's stunned City

Manchester City's Alvaro Negredo (R) is challenged by Chelsea's Eden Hazard during their English Premier League soccer match at the Etihad S
Manchester City's Alvaro Negredo (R) is challenged by Chelsea's Eden Hazard during their English Premier League soccer match at the Etihad S

By Tom Hayward

(Reuters) - Jose Mourinho proved why he is one of the most revered coaches in the world as he masterminded a 1-0 win that ended Manchester City's 100 percent home Premier League record this season.

Chelsea have now picked up 10 points from a possible 12 against the other top four teams this term as they joined the hosts on 53 points, two behind leaders Arsenal.

"We played fantastic. Against a fantastic club, to play the way we did I think is amazing for the boys," Mourinho told Sky Sports after his team had also hit the woodwork three times.

"In the process of building the team, to prepare the team to be favorites, to be one of the favorites next season, I think it is an important step."

Mourinho had said Chelsea would not be "parking the bus" and while they certainly snuffed out City's array of attacking talent, his side also looked dangerous every time they broke and should have added to Branislav Ivanovic's first-half strike.

"They had couple chances but we had better chances to kill the game," Mourinho added. "The players when we didn't have the ball were humble and all ready to defend. When we had the ball they were trying to play and we played really well."

NEXT SEASON

Despite the win secured by fullback Branislav Ivanovic's precise left-foot strike in the first half, Mourinho played down the notion that Chelsea were now favorites to win the title and instead talked about their potential next season.

"It's not our responsibility or our objective to say that (we are favourites). We must complete the puzzle and formation. Some managers it's in their DNA to say we need two, three, four, five years to build.

"The next pre-season, me and my players will say openly that we are mature, solid from day one and are candidates for the league. This season is about evolution.

"We can (win the title) if they (City) lose it. Arsenal are working for many, many years for the evolution of their team.

"What we are doing this season is what Arsenal have been building to for years. It means nothing for us to come here and park the bus and win 1-0 in a lucky situation. The evolution is more important."

It was the first time City had failed to score at home in the league since a 0-0 draw against Birmingham City in November 2010 - a run of 61 games.

MISSING PLAYERS

A frustrated Pellegrini bemoaned the length of City's injury list although he also praised the quality of Chelsea's goal that has blown the title race wide open with 14 matches remaining.

"Chelsea played very well but we had important players out missing. A lot of things like this affect the result, but even so I don't think we deserved to lose the game. Today they had the luck to win," he told Sky Sports.

"It was a very close game. They scored a beautiful goal and they had three shots on the post but we had chances also.

"The important was our missing players, especially Fernandinho. To play without (Sergio) Aguero, (Samir) Nasri, Fernandinho and Javi Garcia.

"It's just three points, now we have 42 more points to play for and we'll see who does it best," he added.

"The race for the title is the same as it was before the match. For Chelsea it was important they didn't go six points behind us but we stay just two points behind Arsenal."

(Writing by Tom Hayward; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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