Manchester City narrowed the gap to two points between themselves and Premier League leaders Arsenal after their 1-0 win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Pep Guardiola’s side started on the front foot from the moment the first whistle was blown, dominating in both possession, entries into the box and shots, but didn’t fully test Vincente Guaita, with their eight shots in the first half all being off-target.
The hosts were organised and were able to keep the visitors at bay, but were unable to offer any threat from set-pieces or counter-attack situations.
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The second half was a lot more cagey to start from both sides, who grew frustrated at their lack of chances.
City had a golden chance to open up the scoring after Jack Grealish was pulled back by Luka Milivojevic right on the edge of the box. The resulting free-kick saw Phil Foden’s bending shot go around the wall, and towards goal, but Guaita managed to dive quickly to his right to push the shot away from danger.
Late in the half, Michael Olise clipped Ilkay Gundogan in the box after running into him, and the referee did not hesitate to point to the spot. Erling Haaland stepped up to take the penalty, and sent Guaita the wrong way to score his fifth goal from the spot this season.
Up next, Palace will head to Brighton, while Man City will take on RB Leipzig in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 knockout tie.
TALKING POINT: CITY GET THE JOB DONE AS PALACE DROP POINTS AGAIN
It wasn’t the scintillating football we’ve come to expect from Manchester City, but regardless, they were the better team, and deserved the win over Palace. They can only keep winning, and hope that Arsenal’s inexperience in the title race allows them to slip up in the final stages of the season. A sign of Premier League champions is knowing how to win ugly, and that’s what Guardiola’s side managed to do ahead of their important Champions League match.
On the flip side, it’s more bad news for Crystal Palace, who haven’t won a match since the 31st of December. They are four points clear of the relegation zone in 12th, and if results don’t start going their way soon, Patrick Vieira’s side may get pulled into a relegation battle they would much rather avoid.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: RODRI
It doesn’t matter if City aren’t at their best when they have someone like Rodri in midfield. The Spaniard did well today to help protect his backline from the threats that Palace posed when countering and often ventured forward to support the team in the final third. He won 11/17 of his duels while also having one interception, three tackles, one key pass, and one shot on target.
PALACE: Vicente Guaita 7, Tyrick Mitchell 6, Marc Guehi 6, Joachim Andersen 6, Nathaniel Clyne 6, Luka Milivojevic 5, Albert Sambi Lokonga 7, Jeffrey Schlupp 6, Jordan Ayew 5, Michael Olise 6, Wilfried Zaha 5.
SUBS: Naouirou Ahamada 6, Joel Ward 6, Odsonne Edouard 6, Eberechi Eze 6.
CITY: Ederson 6, Nathan Ake 7, Ruben Dias 7, Manuel Akanji 7, John Stones 7, Ilkay Gundogan 7, Rodri 8, Jack Grealish 7, Bernardo Silva 6, Phil Foden 7, Erling Haaland 6.
SUBS: Julian Alvarez 6, Kevin De Bruyne 6, Kyle Walker N/A
28’ – CLOSE! Haaland’s shot goes right over the crossbar from close range!
31’ – OFFSIDE: Gundogan free-kick goes straight to Rodri, whose header is saved by Guaita. Palace then try to clear as quick as possible but the flag goes up!
55′ – CITY WIN A FREE-KICK RIGHT ON THE EDGE OF THE BOX: The foul was on the line of the box, and despite the Palace protests of it not being a foul and the City protests of it being a penalty, the referee is confident in his decision, as Grealish was grabbed by Milivojevic from behind.
57′ – CLOSE! Foden’s free-kick bends around the wall and is on target, but it’s kept out by a diving Guaita. What a crucial save that could be!
75′ – PENALTY FOR CITY! Olise barges into Gundogan after the latter lays off the ball, and the ref points to the spot immediately.
78′ – GOAL! CRYSTAL PALACE 0-1 MAN CITY: ERLING HAALAND SCORES FROM THE SPOT TO GIVE CITY THE LEAD. Guaita has had a really good game, but he guesses the wrong way, and City go ahead!
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