CRYSTAL PALACE 0, MANCHESTER CITY 0
There was late drama at Selhurst Park as Luka Milivojevic’s injury time penalty was saved by Ederson in one of the most eventful goalless matches at Crystal Palace as Manchester City’s 18 game winning run came to an end in South London.
Unlike many teams coming up against City, Crystal Palace had a real go and made a game of it at Selhurst Park but City, who lost Gabriel Jesus to a serious looking knee injury early on and Kevin De Bruyne in injury time, could not find a way past their hosts who – in contrast with other teams facing City recently – played a full part in an absorbing game against Pep Guardiola’s team in the first half.
City had hit the woodwork through Sergio Aguero and were denied by last ditch defending and Wayne Hennessey saves while Palace could have snatched a late goal from eight yards in the second half before the injury time drama.
City ended the year on 59 points having dropped their first Premier League points on the road this season, 14 ahead of nearest rivals Chelsea, but will worry about the fitness of Jesus and De Bruyne with a full set of January fixtures ahead.
City made three changes from the side that beat Newcastle United at St James’ Park last Wednesday.
Eliaquim Mangala replaced injured Vincent Kompany, Leroy Sane replaced Raheem Sterling, while Gabriel Jesus replaced Sergio Aguero.
The home side attacked City from the off and forced several chances, with Wilfried Zaha causing Kyle Walker problems down City’s right flank all afternoon.
Palace’s organised pressing caused City problems with a mix-up between Mangala and Ederson affording Christian Benteke a sight of goal but the Belgian’s shot was blocked by Mangala.
Both sides were forced into early changes, with Palace captain Scott Dann stretchered off after jarring his knee while fouling Kevin De Bruyne after just 20 minutes.
Gabriel Jesus had the first shot on target before being forced off in tears three minutes after being unable to carry on following an earlier knee injury caused while over-stretching.
Referee Jon Moss had earlier refused to allow the physio on to treat Jesus after the initial injury, something which will have infuriated the City coaching staff – Guardiola later confirmed that injury will keep Jesus out for between one and two months.
His replacement, Sergio Aguero, saw his deflected effort loop over Wayne Hennessey only to come back off the post – City’s best chance of the first period.
Andros Townsend was found by Zaha but his shot hit Danilo in the face as Palace continued to attack regardless.
City had been rattled by Palace and were not firing on all cylinders and Kevin De Bruyne argued with Leroy Sane after firing a pass beyond him.
The frustrated German was soon in the book for kicking the ball away and he wasn’t the only one of the City players not showing their best at Selhurst Park.
City improved in the second half and began winning free kicks around the Palace box as the home side started to tire from their first half exertions.
Ilkay Gundogan sent a shot wide before he was replaced by Raheem Sterling as City upped the pace and pressure on both flanks.
Bernardo Silva’s cross was a little high for Aguero to get full control on to his header which was collected by Wayne Hennessey.
Sane also forced Hennessey into a save as City continued to improve.
Cabaye was booked for a foul on Sane on the edge of the Palace area and Kevin De Bruyne sent the free kick into the wall. De Bruyne sent another deflected shot into Hennessey’s midriff.
Zaha swapped sides with Townsend and started to cause Danilo and Mangala problems, and Jason Puncheon replaced Yohan Cabaye.
The chance that Palace had been waiting for all afternoon came with 13 minutes to go – Zaha’s quick cut back found Andros Townsend who skied the rebound from eight yards – a real heart on mouth moment for City.
De Bruyne was denied by Kelly while Patrick Van Aanholt denied Sane as City pushed for a goal but Palace continued to attack.
Raheem Sterling was harshly adjudged to have pushed Wilfried Zaha in the City area in injury time but Luka Milivojevic’s spot kick was too close to Ederson who saved it.
City broke quickly and won their own free kick, but with De Bruyne was down following a nasty challenge by Puncheon with both players injured and stretchered off.
City were down to ten men having used all their substitutes and Yaya Toure, who had scored five goals in five games at Selhurst Park, stepped up but his free kick was repelled by the Palace wall.
And eight minutes into four minutes of stoppage time an unmarked Benteke headed wide but Palace could still celebrate preventing City from winning and drawing level with Bayern Munich for consecutive wins and going ahead of Chelsea for consecutive away wins in the league.