AGONY: City’s Jesus is consoled by Timothy Fosu-Mensah
MANCHESTER CITY’S winning run had to end sometime but who would have predicted that it would be at struggling Palace?
Although Pep Guardiola’s champions-elect did not lose they were not quite as sharp as they have been in recent games. No doubt they have been the pacesetters this season and are still the champions elect with a 14-point cushion to fall back on.
Christian Benteke should have given Palace the lead in the 10th minute when he charged down Ederson’s clearance but he shot wide with an empty net gaping. Three minutes later Patrick Van Aanholt hit a drive from distance, which Ederson had to tip round the post.
Both teams suffered an early blow. Scott Dann had to be replaced by Martin Kelly, while Sergio Aguero replaced Gabriel Jesus. Both were due to injuries. Jesus was inconsolable as he left the field in tears, which suggests the injury could be long term.
Aguero hit a shot from outside the area, which came off the woodwork, with Wayne Hennessey just a bystander.
Palace put in a spirited display in the first half and restricted City to just a few chances. The fans acknowledged their work rate at half time as they applauded the team off the field.
City wide man Leroy Sane broke on the left and fired in a shot which hit Hennessey who had spread himself thus denying City a goal. City continued to knock on the door but Palace stood firm. Guardiola emptied his bench by bringing on in-form Raheem Sterling and Yaya Toure.
Stoppage time proved dramatic when Palace were awarded a penalty when Sterling was adjudged to have felled Wifried Zaha in the area.
Luka Milvojevic stepped up took the penalty but Ederson saved it. Seconds later City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne was stretchered off while Toure’s free kick was charged down by the Palace wall.
City escaped in the end with a point and their unbeaten record intact, which means they still have a chance to match Arsenal’s 2004 Invincibles.
Palace loanee Timothy Fosu-Mensah was part of an immense Palace defence. He made countless tackles and made good use of the ball as he stifled Sane all match. He epitomised the Palace spirit which earned them a massive point.
Eagles boss Roy Hodgson said: “I am very proud of the performance. I am pleased about the tactical discipline, commitment, focus and concentration. There is an element of sadness that we did not profit from the penalty that was awarded.”
Hodgson dispelled newspaper reports alleging that Palace want to end Fosu-Mensah’s loan deal early. He said of the Manchester United player: “ I know nothing about that. We are very happy with Tim Fosu-Mensah. I don’t know where that story came from.
A disappointed Guardiola said: “ We had more chances in the second half. We dropped two points today but we could have done that against Huddersfield and Southampton.”
On Ederson he said: ”All the big clubs need a one or two good goalkeepers and we have got it.”
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