Man City's faint hopes of retaining the Premier League title were kept alive at the Etihad Stadium as a once in a blue moon penalty miss from Frank Lampard allowed them to beat Chelsea 2-0.
The champions were dominant but toothless on home soil until the England midfielder, who also missed from the spot against the Citizens in 2009, was unable to beat Joe Hart when presented with an opportunity to give the Blues the lead.
And, after that scare, Roberto Mancini’s side stepped up their performance and scored twice, reducing Man United’s lead at the top of the table to 12 points.
The hosts were impressive throughout the first half and went close through Matija Nastasic, Sergio Aguero, Jack Rodwell and Pablo Zabaleta, but they lacked a cutting edge up front.
Meanwhile Chelsea, who appeared disjointed, were unable to fashion any clear cut chances before the break.
But five minutes into the second period, Lampard, usually so reliable from 12-yards, blew a golden opportunity for the Blues to take the lead but, after Hart felled Demba Ba in the penalty area, he saw his spot-kick well saved by the England goalkeeper.
And Manchester City made them pay after 63 minutes when Yaya Toure waltzed through the Chelsea defence and placed a neat low strike into the far corner of Cech’s goal.
Ramires nearly grabbed an equaliser for the visitors as he first saw Hart save his strike and then his effort from the rebound clipped the bar and went over.
But it was game over after 85 minutes as Carlos Tevez, on as a substitute, picked the ball up outside the area and thrashed a 20-yard effort past Cech’s outstretched arm and into the top corner to make it 2-0.
The Blues remain third but could be overtaken should Tottenham beat West Ham at Upton Park on Monday night.