But after Fernandinho was sent off for a handball on the goal-line, Willian’s penalty decided the contest, 2-1 win in Chelsea’s favour.
City continued from where they’d left off against Burnley for the first half-an-hour, dominating possession and pinning Chelsea in their own half.
The hosts were happy t camp on the edge of their own box with every man back, hoping to catch City on the counter-attack.
The best opportunity in that period of ascendancy was Fernadinho’s glancing header from Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick that was tipped over by Kepa.
But Chelsea began to look a threat when they did venture forward and Ederson was forced into a fine reflex save from Christiansen’s header on 33.
Indeed, there were one or two shaky moments at the back for City, but on 36 minutes, a terrible mix-up led to Chelsea taking the lead.
Mendy then attempted to make amends by challenging the Chelsea striker as he raced clear, but he skipped past the tackle before placing a low shot past Ederson.
Two minutes later, only the woodwork prevented City taking the lead following a superb counter-attack started by Ederson, played on by De Bruyne and David Silva to present Raheem Sterling with a one-on-one chance with Kepa but his effort struck the inside of the post.
Sterling went close again on 67 minutes with a curling shot from 15 yards as City looked for the second their display after the break more than merited.
And City continued to pummel Chelsea with a wave of attacks, knowing he price of dropped points, but the hosts then broke with purpose and as Pulisic went around Ederson, only a magnificent goal-line clearance by Kyle Walker prevented a goal.
It was becoming an enthralling contest with an air of ‘next goals wins’ drama thrown in for good measure.
Then, with 15 minutes to go, a mad scramble in the City box ended with Fernandinho handling on the line and earning a red card for his troubles.
Willian converted the penalty to put the hosts 2-1 up and that looked to be that.
Of course, City never stopped trying - man down or not – but couldn’t find the two goals needed to at least prevent the inevitable a little longer.
What it means…
City remain second in the Premier League some 23 points adrift of the leaders - but with only seven games remaining, we can no longer catch Liverpool who are confirmed as this season’s champions.
City travel to Tyneside to face a resurgent Newcastle United at St James’ Park in the FA Cup quarter-final.
Unbeaten in five games, Steve Bruce’s side held City to a 2-2 draw earlier in the campaign and also won 2-1 in last season’s Premier League clash in the north east.
Pep Guardiola has said his players will treat it as final in a bid to keep on track for our third domestic trophy of the campaign.
Subs: Carson, Sane, Doyle, Harwood-Bellis, Palmer
Chelsea XI: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Alonso, Barkley (Kovacic 73), Kante, Mount (Pedro 90+1), Willian, Giroud (Abraham 62), Pulisic (Gilmour 90+2)
Substitutes: Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Caballero, Zouma, James