MAN CITY 2, CRYSTAL PALACE 2
Sergio Aguero reached another goalscoring landmark, but it was not enough to help Manchester City record victory as they were held at home by Crystral Palace.
The first of the Argentine’s double was his 250th goal for City in 360 appearances.
And that goal was his 178th goal in the Premier League as he overhauled Frank Lampard to go fourth on the all-time list.
Aguero is now only eight goals shy of Andy Cole who is in third place on 187.
It was an extraordinary game in which out-of-sorts City fell behind to a Cenk Tosun goal late in the opening half.
They continued to toil in the second period until Aguero’s dramatic double within the space of five minutes late in the game as they overturned the deficit with three minutes left.
Instead of seeing out of the game, City’s creaking defence was exposed again as Palace equalised in the 90th minute when Wilfried Zaha opened them up and his cross was put through his own goal by Fernandinho as City find themselves 13 points behind leaders Liverpool who have also played two less games.
One point was far from an ideal for Guardiola, 49 today, as City’s birthday hoodoo struck again.
Guardiola became the fifth City manager in the Premier League era to play a game on his birthday – and none have won. While the other four managers lost, at least Guardiola avoided defeat.
City’s manager pointed to the mistake for Palace’s late leveller as being pivotal to the outcome.Embed from Getty Images
He said: “The second goal was a mistake and we have got to avoid it and not let them run at us.
“It was a pity we dropped two points and have to learn from these situations.”
Guardiola praised the “spirit” his side showed saying they could not be faulted for trying to win the game.
“We did everything – attacked, put in crosses and had corners and, as you expect against them, we controlled the game,” he said.
Palace manager Roy Hodgson was delighted with the draw.
He said: “It would have been cruel to have lost as we held out well and were defensively still strong until City equalised in the 82nd minute.
“There are certain goals you have to hold your hands up, but I don’t know what we could have done better for Aguero’s first goal.
“When he scored the second it looked as though all our hard work was in vain, but it was great to see the lads not give up and accept their fate and get an equaliser and I am happier with 2-2 than had it remained 1-1.
“I was proud to win here last year and even more proud with this draw given our situation (with injuries) which meant there was more reason to fear defeat than last year.”
City made three changes from the side that hit Aston Villa for six on Sunday.
Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva won recalls as the expense of Gabriel Jesus, Rodrigo and Riyad Mahrez.
It was an eerily quiet start as a technical fault meant there was no pre-match music at the Etihad.
And that was mirrored by an uneventful opening to the game, though there was an anti-VAR protest by fans who held up placards that it depicted the death of football.
Palace, striving to win successive away games at City for the first time after last season’s thrilling 3-2 victory, looked comfortable in the opening stages.
City came within inches of taking a 14th minute lead as Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick from 30 yards hit the underside of the bar, bounced down on the line and was scrambled to safety.
The kick was awarded following a foul on Aguero on James McArthur who was booked.
Palace were denied a penalty after a VAR check on John Stones’ challenge on Wilfried Zaha.
City, who had nine goal without converting any, were stunned when Palace stole ahead with their first chance of the game in the 39th minute.
James McCarthy’s corner to the far post was headed back across the face of goal by Gary Cahill for Tosun to nod in from four yards, his first goal in the second appearance of a loan from Everton.
City’s response was a well-struck shot from Bernardo Silva which was turned over by keeper Vicente Guaita.
Sterling and Bernardo Silva had chances to equalise early in the second half, but Palace could have extended their lead when Zaha released Tosun who shot straight at Ederson when clean through.
Guardiola’s frustration was evident on the sidelines as he watched his side struggle and just after the hour Jesus was summoned from the bench to replace David Silva who had been making his 300th Premier League appearance, a record for a City player.
And barely one minute after making his entrance, Jesus had a great chance to equalise but shot disappointingly wide.
City were awarded a 71st minute penalty by referee Graham Scott only for VAR official John Brooks to take it away.
Joao Cancelo’s cross struck the arm of left-back Jairo Riedewald only for it to be deemed accidental.
City’s second change with 17 minutes left saw Bernardo Silva replaced by Mahrez.
The equaliser finally arrived in the 82nd minute when Aguero found the net volleying home Jesus’s cross from three yards after the ball looped over Cahill’s head.
Aguero struck again five minutes later, heading home Benjamin Mendy’s cross from 10 yards, his 19th goal of the season.
City made their last change in the 89th minute when Rodrigo replaced Sterling.
There was to be one final twist when Palace made it 2-2 in the last minute of normal time.
Zaha opened up the City defence breezing past John Stones on the left and his low cross was put into his own goal by Fernandinho as substitute Connor Wickham was prepared to strike as Guardiola threw himself to the ground in dismay and disbelief.