Knowing victory at the Etihad would see us regain the title, we gained a 44th minute lead thanks to Raheem Sterling’s close-range strike.
Sergio Aguero then saw a 45th minute penalty saved – and Chelsea hit back after the break as Hakim Ziyech levelled affairs on the hour.
However, though City strove to find a winner and saw a shout for a late penalty turned down, it was Cheslea who gained the winner, Marcos Alonso beating Ederson in injury time to seal the victory and ensure the race goes on – at least for 24 hours.
City boss Pep Guardiola opted to make nine changes from the side that swept Paris Saint-Germain aside in the Champions League semi-final – and tweak his tactical formation to a 5-1-4 set-up.
And, perhaps not surprisingly in the wake of their midweek European exertions, it proved a cagey, measured opening as both sides pressed and sought to get the measure of each other.
Chances proved at a premium in a patient, slow burn first half hour and while Chelsea’s Timo Werner did have the ball in the net on 31 minutes, the German was well offside.
But a passive first half suddenly exploded into life in a dramatic finale with City’s all-important breakthrough arriving on 44 minutes thanks to Sterling.
Jesus was the architect, seizing on an error by Christiansen on the left edge of the box, before the Brazilian unselfishly fed the ball across to the waiting Aguero.
The striker’s first touch was not the cleanest - but it proved no impediment as Sterling stole in on Kun’s blind side to apply the all-important close-range finish.
Our grip on the game – and a prospective third title in four years- could have been further tightened in first half injury time after Jesus was upended by Billy Gilmour in the box.
Referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot straight away.
However, Aguero could not apply the finish, his Panenka-type spot-kick misfiring and allowing Mendy the most comfortable of saves.
But there was still work to do for City with Chelsea noticeably stepping up the intensity after the break.
And it was Tuchel’s side who drew level on 63 minutes through Hakim Ziyech.
City were disposed and a swift counter through Alonso and Pulisic saw the ball find Ziyech on the edge of the area and the Moroccan fired home past Ederson into the bottom corner.
With both sides striving for a winner, Jesus weaved his way at the heart of the visitors’ defence only for the shot to drift wide.
Chelsea then had the ball in the City twice through Werner and Hudson-Odoi – but fortunately on both occasions the strikers were offside.
Sterling was then updended by Zouma. Referee Taylor ruled no penalty and a VAR check also adjudged no spot-kick.
And to compound City’s frustration, deep into injury time Alonso then evaded the City defence to beat Ederson with an injury time flick and claim all three points for the Londoners.
CHELSEA: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen (Zouma 45), Rudiger, James, Kante (Jorginho 67), Gilmour, Alonso, Ziyech (Hudson-Odoi 76), Werner, Pulisic
Subs: Kepa, Emerson, Livramento, Havertz, Ambraham, Giroud
“In general, the performance was good,” the boss said at his post-match press conference.
“We are sad because we lose - we wanted to close the Premier League today - but we have to be focused. Football is unpredictable and we have to focus on the game at Newcastle.
“I will not start thinking about the action and another one and another. It will never end. Everyone made a good contribution and we were incredibly focused.
“First goal, we didn't block the shot well and the second we did not defend the penalty spot. There were many things but in general the game was good against a top side.
“Now we have six days, more than ever in this season. We will rest and then prepare for our final at Newcastle.”
Today’s goal brought up double figures for Raheem Sterling in the Premier Leeague.
It also meant the England star has now scored ten or more goals in each of his last four Premier League campaigns - only Sergio Aguero (9) has reached double figures more often in the competition for City.
What it means
All the attention is now on Manchester United’s trip to Aston Villa. If United win or draw, the title race will continue but if they lose then we will be crowned champions.
After an intense period of high-profile matches, City now have six days respite before we are next in action.
We travel to Newcastle United next Friday evening (May 14th) for our penultimate Premier League away fixture.
Kick-off at St James’ Park is scheduled for 8pm.
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