Branislav Ivanovic struck the decisive goal as Chelsea ended Manchester City's 20-game unbeaten run with a 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.
Ivanovic scored with a crisp left-footed drive in the 32nd minute to move Jose Mourinho's side level with City in second place in the Barclays Premier League, only two points adrift of leaders Arsenal.
Prior to Monday's game, City had won 18 of their last 20 matches in all competitions and had scored in 61 successive top-flight fixtures at home, going back to a 0-0 stalemate with Birmingham City in November 2010.
However, it was Chelsea who looked most likely to score again, as they struck the woodwork three times going in search of a second, while City struggled to find a way through their well-organised defence.
The victory means Mourinho's team have now won six of their last seven Barclays Premier League outings and they now sit behind City on goal difference.
The hosts, with Martin Demichelis in midfield instead of the injured Fernandinho, started much the brighter and created a handful of opportunities in the opening 20 minutes, with Yaya Toure at the heart of everything.
With 10 minutes played, City released Aleksandar Kolarov on the left hand side before the Serbian delivered a dangerous ball across the six-yard box, but a lunging Toure could not quite reach it at the back post.
The Ivorian turned creator eight minutes later after charging into the Chelsea penalty area, he held off the challenge of Nemanja Matic before rolling the ball into David Silva but the Spaniard's flicked effort went just wide of Petr Cech's goal.
David Luiz, starting in midfield for Chelsea, then wasted a free-kick in a good position, and his Brazilian compatriot Ramires did the same shortly after, but the visitors were soon ahead.
Just after the half-hour mark, another swift move from Chelsea saw Ramires' effort blocked, only for the loose ball to drop to Ivanovic. The full-back duly lashed a left-footed shot through a crowded penalty area and beyond Hart for his second Barclays Premier League goal of the season.
City should have been further behind in the closing minutes of the first half, but Samuel Eto'o fired his shot against the post after excellent work from Eden Hazard.
Willian came close to aadding to the lead and the hosts were again let off the hook when Matic's superb long-range effort crashed against the post.
Hart's goal was leading a charmed life as the visitors hit the woodwork for a third time in the 67th minute. Willian's right-wing corner was met by the head of Gary Cahill but his effort struck the post and was cleared by a relieved City defence.
Kolarov had City's best attempt of the second half from a 20-yard free kick but the Serbian saw Cech claw the ball out of the top corner, while Silva spurned a chance to level in the 75th minute.
Stevan Jovetic, who came on for Alvaro Negredo in the second half, then forced Cech into another fine save in injury time as Chelsea held firm in the face of strong late pressure from the hosts.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: "For Chelsea it was a decisive game, for us it was an important one. We're still two points behind Arsenal. It was a very tough game, they score a beautiful goal but we had clear chances at least to draw. We couldn't do and they had two or three chances against the post. It was a very close game, they played well. We are not going to have any problems (bouncing back)."
"Missing players (made it tough). To play without Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, Fernandinho and Javi Garcia was difficult. Fernandinho was a big loss."
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: "I think we played fantastic, to play the way we did is amazing. In this process of building the team to be one of the favourites for next season this is a very important step. The best team in the Premier League - we beat them twice, today we were fantastic. We had the better chances to kill the game, the players played with fantastic spirit. When they had the ball we were very humble and ready to work defensively, when we had the ball we played and played really well.
"We are there, but not favourites. For the team it's very important, the feeling is fantastic feeling for them. Today we won because we were the best team, not better than them but today they were fabulous. It is not our objective to win (the title this season), our objective is to build the team and complete the formation of the players. I want to start next pre-season and say this season we are going to compete and be one of the favourites."
|08 Feb 2014||v Norwich (A)|
|22 Feb 2014||v Stoke (H)|
|15 Mar 2014||v Hull (A)|
|22 Mar 2014||v Fulham (H)|
|25 Mar 2014||v Man Utd (A)|
|29 Mar 2014||v Arsenal (A)|