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Ivanovic’s gem does it for Blues

Manchester: Branislav Ivanovic’s first-half cracker and Jose Mourinho’s tactical mastery helped classy Chelsea claim a 1-0 win against Premier League title rivals Manchester City who failed to score at home for the first time this season.

Chelsea’s victory put the Londoners level on 53 points with second-placed City and within two points of league leaders Arsenal after 24 games. It also ended City’s run of scoring in 61 consecutive home league games since 2010.

Ivanovic struck just after the half-hour mark when Ramires’ effort was blocked by Vincent Kompany and fell for the Serbian right-back, who let fly first time from the edge of the box and saw his powerful left-footed shot nestle in the far corner.

City had chances to equalise but Chelsea, who also hit the woodwork three times, were always a threat on the break in an absorbing contest, which was decided by Mourinho’s ability to find the perfect blend between attack and defence.

“We showed a lot of character and created a lot of chances. We spent a good couple of days working on their strengths and weaknesses — that is typical Jose Mourinho,” Chelsea captain John Terry said.

“We have a couple of games at home now to kick on. We must win them as we dropped points against West Ham last week,” he added, referring to a frustrating barren draw.

Monday’s game was billed as a potential early title decider by some, such has been City’s incredible form and the widely held belief that wily Chelsea are their most likely challengers despite Arsenal having led the race for much of the season.

“They scored a beautiful goal, not an easy goal, he hit it from a long way out with the outside of his foot,” City boss Manuel Pellegrini told.