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Match Reports

Report: Crystal Palace 0-0 Manchester City

31 December 2017

Against the odds, Palace ended Manchester City’s 18-match winning streak by gaining a goalless draw at Selhurst Park, but they could have snatched a memorable victory if Luka Milivojevic had converted an injury-time penalty.

The Eagles held firm for the whole game to repel the country’s most potent attacking force, and it looked as though they would be rewarded when they were handed a spot-kick beyond the 90th minute, but Milivojevic saw his effort saved by Ederson as the chance to become the first team to beat Guardiola’s side this season slip away.

Despite City’s huge lead at the top of the table and an early chance for Bernardo Silva which was scuffed wide, Palace were undaunted as they kept Guardiola’s men at bay throughout, and with a sign of things to come the early opportunities fell their way.

The first came when some miscommunication between Eliaquim Mangala and Ederson allowed a Wayne Hennessey clearance to bounce between them and Christian Benteke nipped in, but the Frenchman managed to recover and deflect the goalbound effort wide of the open goal.

Then on 13 minutes after a free-kick was cleared into his path, Patrick van Aanholt saw a volley from 25 yards take a slight deflection that required Ederson to produce a full-stretch save to tip it away, but the Eagles’ bright start was halted when Scott Dann was stretchered off with a serious-looking knee injury after a challenge on Kevin de Bruyne, ending his 200th Premier League appearance on a sour note.

That, as well as City being forced into a change of their own after Gabriel Jesus came off in tears, saw the game lose some of its edge until his replacement Sergio Aguero took matters into his own hands by cutting inside and letting fly, but his shot struck Jairo Riedewald and bounced kindly off the post, and then in stoppage-time De Bruyne cut the ball back to City’s all-time top scorer who shanked wide as Palace held on to their parity up until half-time.

They continued in the same vein after the restart and continued to frustrate their opponents, but with their winning streak in jeopardy Guardiola’s team cranked up the pressure and Ilkay Gundogan bent the ball a whisker wide from 25 yards before Fernandinho belted into the Whitehorse Lane End, and then Aguero headed straight at Hennessey.

And soon after the Eagles glovesman made his first big stop of the game when a deep cross by Raheem Sterling found Leroy Sane at the back post but Hennessey managed to block his first-time shot with his body, but the hosts were still in contention and with 13 minutes to go Wilfried Zaha’s low centre was dummied by Riedewald and gave Andros Townsend a sight of goal, but he screwed his snapshot high and wide.

But as usual at Selhurst Park this season there would be late drama, and once again it centred around a last-gasp penalty when Zaha was upended in the box by Sterling, and Jon Moss pointed to the spot. Milivojevic, having scored three times from 12 yards this season, once again stepped up to take it but saw his blast down the middle strike the legs of Ederson as Roy Hodgson’s team were forced to settle for just a point against the runaway league leaders.

Palace: Hennessey, Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins, Dann (Kelly 19), Van Aanholt, Townsend, Milivojevic, Cabaye (Puncheon 75, Lee 90), Riedewald, Zaha, Benteke. Subs not used: Speroni, Souare, Delaney, Kaikai.

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Mangala, Danilo, Gundogan (Sterling 57), Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Sane, B. Silva (Toure 81), Jesus (Aguero 23). Subs not used: Bravo, Stones, Adarabioyo, Zinchenko.

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