Manchester City and Chelsea stars got into a brawl in the closing minutes of their match.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola issued an apology after his side lost its cool and was reduced to nine men during Saturday’s 1-3 loss to Premier League leader Chelsea.

City took the lead late in the first half, but second-half goals from Diego Costa, Willian and Eden Hazard gave Chelsea a smash-and-grab victory and the hosts lost their composure in stoppage time.

Sergio Aguero was sent off for a flying lunge on David Luiz and in the ensuing touchline melee, Fernandinho was dismissed after throttling Cesc Fabregas and shoving him over an advertising hoarding. “It’s a pity it finished like this. I don’t like that. I apologize for what happened,” said Guardiola, whose side has gone four home games without victory.

Aguero now faces a four-match suspension, but Guardiola claimed his airborne foul on Luiz had not been intentional. He also said Fernandinho, who will be banned for three games, had merely wanted to “defend his teammate” when he confronted Fabregas, who played under Guardiola at Barcelona.

Asked for his verdict on Aguero’s challenge, Chelsea defender Luiz told Sky Sports: “I don’t like to speak about these type of things. Aguero is an amazing player who does a lot for football.”

But he added: “We showed our power. It also shows our character that we didn’t lose our heads.”

It was Chelsea’s eighth victory in succession — its best such run within the same season since 2007 — and put it four points clear of City at the top of the table. “I think today was very tough and the game was open until the end. There were lots of chances for both teams to score,” said Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. “I saw lots of character from my team and that’s very important to grow. But we must continue to work and improve.”

Elsewhere, Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez displayed his mesmerizing skills in scoring a 15-minute hat-trick against injury-hit West Ham for a 5-1 romp.

Tottenham Hotspur also walloped Swansea 5-0 at home. Sunderland beat Leicester 2-1, Crystal Palace topped Southampton 3-0, and West Bromwich Albion won 3-1 at home to Watford.

Shanghai Daily

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