Crystal Palace 0 Manchester City 2

FA Premier League
Sunday 27 April 2014, 16.10 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Kolarov, Milner, Garcia, Toure (Fernandinho 66), Nasri, Dzeko (Negredo 88), Aguero (Jovetic 78)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Clichy
Goals: Dzeko (4), Toure (43)
Booked: Zabaleta

Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the Match: Javi Garcia

Zabaleta crunches into a challenge.

Zabaleta crunches into a challenge.

What a funny old game football can be. After a defeat to Liverpool and a draw with Sunderland, the title was but a pipe dream for City fans – but after Chelsea’s win at Anfield and the Blues’ visit to Crystal Palace, it’s now back in their own hands.

As has been a feature of City’s games, it was them who made the brighter start – and had an early goal to match. Aguero was close to getting in behind, while a Zabaleta low cross was cut out, before the ball fell to Toure on the edge of the box. He crossed well for Dzeko, who had slipped in between the two central defenders, and his header powered past the goalkeeper.

The visitors were almost in again a moment later, as a short backpass was intercepted by Aguero as Speroni came to close down the angle. The Argentine was forced wide and couldn’t find the gap through to goal – in the end the goalkeeper managed to get the ball behind.

With just over 20 minutes gone, City were close to doubling their lead. First, Zabaleta got in behind on a floated ball by Toure, but he couldn’t generate power on his header, so chose to square for Aguero. It wouldn’t sit up for him to shoot, though, and, as it came out to Milner, the cross was deflected behind. Kompany’s free header from the corner was a just wide from six yards.

City wanted a penalty with 10 minutes of the half to play, but it would have been harsh: Toure’s shot from the edge of the box was blasted towards goal and it caught Delaney on the arm in front of his chest. He was close to the shot, though, and the referee rightly played on.

As half time approached, City doubled their lead. A one-two between Toure and Nasri sent the Ivorian clean through. He took a bad first touch and got the ball caught under his feet, but had the awareness and strength to power through and knock it back onto his left foot inside. As the goalkeeper came out, he curled it into the top corner on his weaker foot.

Milner battles to win back possession.

Milner battles to win back possession.

City came out for the second half sloppily – the hosts had the initiative from the off and, in the first minute, forced Hart into his first save of the match. Puncheon fired an effort from the edge of the box that might have crept it and, being unsure, the goalkeeper touched it behind. He was then off his line quickly to punch the resulting corner clear.

A marauding run from Toure down the right, after he was set free by Dzeko in the centre of midfield, came close to picking out Aguero in the middle as he’d powered his way down the flank. He tried to cross low, but it was cut out by Dann en route to the Argentine.

With 20 minutes to play, Aguero went close with an outside-of-the-foot shot from inside the box on a quick breakaway – Milner fed it back inside and allowed the striker to get a shot in. Dzeko went close from the other corner of the box a moment later, as his effort took a deflection and almost sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Speroni, though, was able to stick out a foot to make the save.

The hosts tried to pile pressure on the City goal in the closing stages, but the visitors were firm in defence, with little getting through to Hart. It was a vital three points for Pellegrini’s men, who can now take the title should they win all three of their remaining games.

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Manchester City 1 Crystal Palace 0

FA Premier League
Saturday 28 December 2013, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Boyata (Negredo 55), Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy, Garcia, Fernandinho (Nasri 55), Navas, Silva, Milner (Kolarov 75), Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Toure, Rodwell
Goals: Dzeko (66)
Booked: Silva

Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the Match: Fernandinho

Milner jumps to challenge.

Milner jumps to challenge.

The game very quickly slipped into a pattern that would take seemingly forever to break, as Crystal Palace’s intentions to leave with a point became clear from the off. The visitors packed their defence and a much-changed home side were finding it very difficult to break through. Dzeko’s turn and shot was well wide, Fernandinho had a shot deflected over, while Silva powered wide.

The ball was coming back to Palace throughout the first half, but City just could not trouble Speroni. Milner curled an effort over from the edge of the box, Dzeko nodded a high cross back across the area but it was deflected over, and Kompany’s piledriver from range was gathered by the goalkeeper.

As the half hour came up, the visitors enjoyed a spell of possession in the City half – even if it was brief. Bolasie volleyed an effort straight at Hart, before Kompany and Nastasic combine to snuff out a quick break. Jerome threw himself at a low cross into the box, but Hart was there first and took a blow to the face that would see him finish the game with a black eye. Jerome couldn’t continue after the clash.

On the stroke of half time, Silva blasted just wide from a tight angle, before Fernandinho picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box to shoot. The Brazilian flicked it over the challenge and volleyed with his left foot, but it was just over the bar – the home fans were frustrated, but that’s exactly what Palace were aiming for.

Early in the second period, the Blues were thankful for their goalkeeper as the away side could have taken the lead. A long range effort from Puncheon looked destined for the bottom corner until Hart was down and across to palm it behind. From the resulting corner, Chamakh headed wide – when he should have headed in.

On the hour mark, Palace came even closer – though the combination was the same. Puncheon belted a shot from range and Hart, even more impressively this time, was across to his left to get a fingertip on the ball and nudge it around the post. Jedinak then forced the England keeper into a good save, touching his effort over the bar.

But it was the Blues who took the lead, as they got back into the swing of things. Navas picked up a high ball to the back post by Nasri and pulled it back across the area. It missed Negredo at the front post, but Dzeko was waiting on the penalty spot to side-foot it into the net.

The goal, though, didn’t do much for the game. In the end, it was one of the last few meaningful efforts on goal – with two Dzeko headers being the closest either side came in the final 25 minutes. The first – from deep – was from a Kolarov cross, but was a difficult chance and easy for Speroni, while the second – from a tight angle – couldn’t find the net from a Navas driven ball across.

It wasn’t a pretty game, but City did what they needed to. They enjoy a Saturday night on top of the table and have broken the Premier League record for the most number of goals scored at the midway point in the season.

Crystal Palace 0 Manchester City 2

Carling Cup Round 2
Thursday 27 August 2009, 20:00 KO

City: Given, Richards, Lescott, Toure (c), Bridge, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Barry, Robinho (Bellamy 72), Tevez (de Jong 86), Adebayor
Unused: Taylor, Zabaleta, Onuoha, Petrov, Weiss
Goals: Wright-Phillips (50), Tevez (70)
Booked: Richards

Referee: Darren Deadman
Man of the Match: Stephen Ireland

The second round of the League Cup has been a stumbling block for City in recent seasons, with the blues going out at this stage to Doncaster, Colchester and Brighton in three of the last four seasons. So Mark Hughes fielded a full strength side to make sure it didn’t happen again.

But it was the home side who started the better, with City unable to get a foot on the ball. Clint Hill had the first chance of the game, but his header was powered straight at Shay Given, just before Micah Richards picked up a yellow card for a foul on Victor Moses.

Moses then forced a fine save from Given, from more Palace pressure. City should then have taken the lead through Robinho, but the forward was flagged offside despite being in his own half when the ball was played.

Freddie Sears then wasted another excellent chance for Palace, when he broke the offside trap and faced Given in a one-on-one. But the Irish keeper stood up well and blocked his shot with his chest.

The visitors then had a spell of possession, before the offside flag was raised against Robinho once more, but this time it was the correct decision.

City were on top, as the half came to a close, with Julian Speroni in the Palace goal pulling off a fine save from Adebayor to keep the score at 0-0. He then stopped a Tevez shot with a brave save, after the little Argentinian had played a neat one-two with Stephen Ireland.

Palace had the most of the early second-half possession, but it was City who used the ball best. Some neat play from Robinho and Stephen Ireland found Wright-Phillips unmarked and he was able to lash a shot into the back of the net, giving the visitors the lead.

It could have been two and then three almost instantly, as first Speroni denied Adebayor and then the crossbar denied Wright-Phillips, as City began to take control of the game.

City added a second to their total 20 minutes from the end from a corner. New signing Lescott made a run to the near post, dragging two defenders out of the way for Carlos Tevez to get his first goal for City, neatly nodding the ball home from close range.

Palace’s Shaun Derry then had a chance saved by Given, before the referee turned down two late shouts for penalties for the home side and City were able to see out the game comfortably.

It will be a relief for Mark Hughes to get through to the next round. The tie was a potential banana skin and, despite some early pressure, City coped well and were able to convert their chances to take them into round three.

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