Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne run amok as Man City cruise past Chelsea
"My situation never changed... Please let me go."
Those were the words of former Chelsea player Kevin De Bruyne this week when explaining his relationship with former manager Jose Mourinho and the reasons he was sold to Wolfsburg without ever making an impression at Stamford Bridge.
Sergio Aguero may have taken home the match ball after his hat-trick but it was De Bruyne who made the biggest impression in west London; unfortunately for watching Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich he was wearing Manchester City's alternative neon green rather than the royal blue of the home side.
Since being sold by Chelsea to Wolfsburg in 2014 De Bruyne has been named the most outstanding player in the Bundesliga and moved to the Etihad for a club record £55m. His absence from Manuel Pellegrini's team saw the visitors endure their darkest run of form this season, and his return has sparked the side back to life and into the semi-final of the Champions League.
At Stamford Bridge, De Bruyne was the most influential player on the pitch and it wasn't even close. He claimed an assist for the opener and was produced a sublime, crucial touch in th build-up to Sergio Aguero's second.
Chelsea had more possession and Pedro, Willian and Ruben Loftus-Cheek furrowed at the other end, but De Bruyne was doing far more with far less as City played a brilliant counter-punching game.
It wasn't all plain sailing for the visitors, however. In what was a thrilling opening 10 minutes, both sides displayed the fatal flaw that has turned their Premier League campaigns into such disasters - teams with title aspirations can't afford to be so bad defensively.
It took only three minutes for the Chelsea guard to be breached, De Bruyne taking advantage of a sloppy Cesc Fabregas pass to cut-back to Sergio Aguero, who was only a denied a goal thanks to a last-gasp block from Gary Cahill. Within 90 seconds De Bruyne had a shot saved by Thibaut Courtois.
Nicolas Otamendi completely misjudged a long ball towards Diego Costa but he returning striker couldn't quite get the ball under control. he managed to lay off to Pedro, whose goal-bound shot was blocked by a relieved Otamendi. Ruben Loftus-Cheek gave a sniff of his bright future with a sharp drive at goal after a superb turn beyond Otamendi, before Gary Cahill's half-volley looked to be heading in until Eliaquim Mangala headed over.
But it was De Bruyne who was in control, given free reign of Stamford Bridge in a manner he was never allowed when a player and here. He should've opened the scoring when a simple pass from Yaya Toure cut the defence in two, but aimed his shot straight at Courtois. Not long after, Samir Nasri was allowed to drift into the area but Courtois, again, did enough to keep it goalless. That resistance didn't last much longer.
The visitors had looked at their most potent on the counter and the goal was no different, coming from a Chelsea corner. De Bruyne's one-two with Yaya Toure was slightly fortunate but by then he had sprung free. Powering down the right, he found Aguero who stepped inside and fired at goal, the ball deflecting off of Cahill to open the scoring.
The Blues came out with renewed purpose in the second half and it was the bright Loftus-Cheek who would have most pleased the Chelsea fans. The 20-year-old couldn't quite stretch far enough to prod home after good work by Pedro down the left, then failed to control a wild effort after showing great strength to muscle past Mangala. But the vast gulf in quality between what Chelsea have and what they had was soon on show. Costa was still claiming a penalty when the ball dropped at the feet of De Bruyne, who showed a deft touch to knock the ball past Azpilicueta. As with the first goal, it took less than 20 seconds for a Chelsea attack to finish with a Manchester City goal.
The game was done, Chelsea would barely create another chance although there was plenty of time for it to get worse at the Bridge. The home side were again sliced open by a rampaging Fernandinho, who drove through midfield and was bearing down on goal. Courtois had no choice but to take down the midfielder and was sent off for his trouble; Sergio Aguero completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot.
Roman Abramovich, arms folded deep within each other and with an empty seat to his right, will know there is so much work to do this summer.
Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Rahman, Mikel (Begovic), Fabregas, Willian (Traore), Loftus-Cheek, Pedro (Kenedy), Costa
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta (Sagna), Otamendi, Mangala, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Toure, Navas, De Bruyne, Nasri (Delph), Aguero (Iheanacho)
Man of the match: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)