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Striker Fernando Torres scored in the final minute to give Chelsea a dramatic victory over Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
Gary Cahill and Torres had spurned chances before the latter laid on Andre Schurrle to score his first Chelsea goal and give Jose Mourinho's men a deserved half-time lead.
Sergio Aguero's superb thunderous strike - his sixth goal in four outings and 10th of the season - beat Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal three minutes after the restart and the equaliser prompted a sustained spell of City pressure.
Manuel Pellegrini's team appeared the most likely winners heading into the closing stages but as they pressed, Chelsea substitute Willian launched a hopeful ball forward and City defender Matija Nastasic headed back towards his own goal past the on-rushing Hart to leave Torres with a simple finish for the winner.
Ashley Cole returned to displace Cesar Azpilicueta in Jose Mourinho's only change to the Chelsea XI that beat Schalke 3-0 in the UEFA Champions League.
Vincent Kompany's continued injury absence with a thigh complaint meant that City boss Manuel Pellegrini handed Martin Demichelis a debut at centre-back and pushed Javi Garcia into a holding role to match Chelsea's three-man central midfield.
Chelsea had a good chance in the third minute as a corner was partially cleared and Oscar found Gary Cahill, who blazed over when unmarked at the back post.
City proceeded to dominate possession in the first quarter of the match without fashioning a clear chance and they offered up another for the hosts in the 29th minute when Torres ghosted onto Ramires' pass, only to fire over with the goal at his mercy.
The striker atoned for his error three minutes later, though, with an electric burst of pace to beat Gael Clichy and cross for Schurrle to enjoy a simple finish.
A rejuvenated Torres subsequently tormented City's other full-back, Pablo Zabaleta - cutting in past the Argentina international and his countryman Demichelis to rattle Joe Hart's crossbar with a superb curling effort.
Petr Cech then beat away a rasping shot on the turn from Aguero in the 42nd minute as City pressed for a way back into the game. But Cech could do nothing four minutes after the break when the in-form striker made light of an acute angle to drill Samir Nasri's throughball into the top corner.
Chelsea were suddenly reeling and Cech gratefully grasped Garcia's free header from David Silva's free-kick.
From similar situations at the other end, Torres and John Terry passed up opportunities from Frank Lampard deliveries and, by the time Cech's left boot had denied Silva in the 65th minute, the contest was wide open.
Aguero searched for another inspired intervention as he lobbed over the far corner following a lightning-quick break involving Silva and substitute Jesus Navas, but it was Torres who had the final say.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: "Everything happened for Torres after he missed an easy chance. After that, we saw the best Fernando. He worked unbelievably for the team. The second goal was a 'believe goal'.
"We won a game which was very important for us. We beat maybe the best team in the Premier League. I think there are five or six fantastic teams who will fight for the Premier League. They [City] are the best team, very dangerous and physical. When you beat maybe the best team, it gives you positive feelings."
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: "I don't know if it's the worst [way to lose] but one of the worst, I think so. We played very well, especially in the second half. We were absolutely in control of the ball and the game.
"It's exactly what happened in the other defeats that we've had this year away - we have an important mistake to lose the game. The former Real Madrid and Malaga coach refused to apportion blame to Hart or Nastasic after the game.
"I don’t think it is the moment to say who has to take the ball. They scored the goal and we will see in the week what happened when we analyse.
"I think that we played a very good game. I think that in the first half, maybe Chelsea had one chance and they scored and they also shot and hit the crossbar [through Torres]. But in the second half we draw (level) immediately and had three or four chances very clear to score. Maybe a draw was going to happen in the game but these games you must win. We scored and they scored two goals."
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