Football: Guardiola sorry for City brawl

Above: Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho (right) grabs Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas by the throat after Sergio Aguero's challenge on David Luiz. City were reduced to nine men after Aguero and Fernandinho both received red cards at Etihad Stadium
Above: Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho (right) grabs Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas by the throat after Sergio Aguero's challenge on David Luiz. City were reduced to nine men after Aguero and Fernandinho both received red cards at Etihad Stadium yesterday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE PHOTO: REUTERS
Above: Chelsea's Eden Hazard celebrating after scoring their third goal in the 3-1 victory against City.
Above: Chelsea's Eden Hazard celebrating after scoring their third goal in the 3-1 victory against City.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE PHOTO: REUTERS

Aguero and Fernandinho sent off as leaders Chelsea fight back to win 8th straight game

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MANCHESTER • Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola issued an apology after his side lost their cool and were reduced to nine men during yesterday's defeat by Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Diego Costa was once again the star as Chelsea roared back to win 3-1 yesterday in an ill-tempered game at City, who had Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho dismissed.

"It's a pity it finished like this. I don't like that. I apologise for what happened," said Guardiola.

Gary Cahill's own goal just before half-time gave City the lead, but Costa equalised and teed up substitute Willian before Eden Hazard struck to send Antonio Conte's men four points clear of City at the summit.

With his strike, Costa has scored a total of 11 goals in 14 league games as he tops the league scoring chart, one ahead of Aguero.

HARD-FOUGHT WIN

Today was very tough and the game was open until the end. I saw lots of character from my team and that's very important.

ANTONIO CONTE, Chelsea manager, on coming from behind to win at the Etihad Stadium.

Chelsea now have 34 points, four points ahead of Liverpool, who travel to Bournemouth today.

"I think today was very tough and the game was open until the end," said Conte after the game.

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"I saw lots of character from my team and that's very important. We must continue to work and improve."

Unfortunately, this occasion will be remembered more for the extraordinary scenes in stoppage time when City, to put it bluntly, lost the plot and a fractious, emotional game spiralled out of control.

First, Aguero was sent off for a diabolical challenge on David Luiz but that told only part of the story.

The two sets of players clashed by the touchline and Fernandinho could be in serious trouble after grabbing Fabregas by the neck and eventually pushing him with such force that the Spaniard ended up in the crowd.

Fernandinho was also shown a red card but he, and City, may face further action when the Football Association's disciplinary department gets hold of the video replays.

To put it into context, both managers were on the pitch, trying desperately to stop it getting any worse.

Aguero can expect a four-game ban as this is his second such suspension of the season - meaning that he will miss upcoming league games against Leicester, Watford, Arsenal and Hull.

It was the second time in succession that Chelsea came from behind to win, having done so against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, as they recorded their eighth successive victory in the league.

Guardiola tasted defeat at the Etihad Stadium for the first time as City manager and has now seen his side go four home games without a win.

"Congratulations to Chelsea, they won. We created a lot of chances, played really good. But after the 1-2 (Willian's goal), it's not easy. In the box, we're not strong enough," Guardiola said after the match.

When asked about Aguero's red-card offence which sparked the feisty clash, the Spaniard said: "Both players (Aguero and Luiz) were strong there, so that's all.

"Overall the level was good, believe me. You are going to analyse... we lost 3-1, but I prefer to play that way, rather than against Burnley and Crystal Palace where we won but we didn't play well."

Conte was more succinct when questioned about the incident.

"It's a pity.

"Aguero is for sure a fantastic player, and it's difficult to control yourself when you are losing a game. I think Aguero is a really good player… I'll stop," the Italian said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 04, 2016, with the headline 'Guardiola sorry for City brawl'. Print Edition | Subscribe