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Man City Squander Two-Goal Lead, Draw Crystal Palace

Pep Guardiola's side scored twice in the first 45 minutes of the game in what looked like a routine win for the defending champions.


Manchester City’s English defender #05 John Stones (R) remonstrates with Manchester City’s Portuguese midfielder #20 Bernardo Silva (L) after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 16, 2023. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / 

 

Manchester City’s Premier League title defence suffered another blow as Crystal Palace fought back from two goals down to rescue a 2-2 draw thanks to Michael Olise’s last-gasp penalty on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s side were in command after Jack Grealish put them ahead in the first half and Rico Lewis doubled the lead after the break.

But the champions collapsed in the second half at the Etihad Stadium as Jean-Philippe Mateta reduced the deficit in the closing stages before Olise converted his penalty in the fifth minute of stoppage-time.

It was the fifth time in six league games that Pep Guardiola’s men have dropped points, having also drawn with Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham and lost to Aston Villa prior to last Sunday’s 2-1 win at Luton.

In what was their last match before heading to Saudi Arabia for the Club World Cup, the result leaves them fourth in the table, three points behind leaders Liverpool, who host Manchester United on Sunday.

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City’s bid for an unprecedented fourth successive title is in danger, although Guardiola will remind his players they came from eight points behind Arsenal to snatch the crown late last season.

Once again without the injured Erling Haaland, City dominated the opening stages and Palace ‘keeper Dean Henderson did well to save a fifth-minute Julian Alvarez header.

City’s breakthrough came in the 24th minute when Phil Foden fed Grealish, and he slotted past Henderson for his third goal in as many league games – the effort standing after a lengthy VAR check for offside.

Josko Gvardiol drilled into the side-netting via a touch from Henderson and Foden whipped a shot wide.

City had the ball in the net again seven minutes of the second half when Alvarez’s free-kick on the left went in at the far post, but the flag went up for offside against Rodri and the effort was disallowed.

The hosts did have their second in the 54th minute as Grealish’s pass ricocheted off Rodri and the ball fell to Lewis for a close-range finish, the 19-year-old’s first Premier League goal being confirmed after a VAR review.

City looked to be cruising, but Palace pulled a goal back in the 76th minute when a long ball found Jeffrey Schlupp and he supplied Mateta, who slid home to start the nerves jangling in Guardiola’s team.

Manchester City’s Brazilian goalkeeper #31 Ederson (R) watches as Crystal Palace’s French midfielder #07 Michael Olise shoots from the penalty spot to scores the team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 16, 2023. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Deep into stoppage time City fans’ fears were realised as Foden caught Mateta in the box, referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot, and Olise calmly dispatched the ball past Ederson.

AFP