Crystal Palace 0-1 Manchester City: Late Haaland penalty proves decisive
A late penalty from Erling Haaland gave Manchester City a hard-fought 1-0 win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Palace are now without a win in their last 11 games but Patrick Vieira's side kept City at bay for large periods of the contest, despite not registering a shot on target themselves.
Pep Guardiola left Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker on the bench and was about to bring the Belgium international on with time running out, before his side won a penalty in the 78th minute, which Haaland converted.
A third-straight Premier League victory moves City to within two points of leaders Arsenal, who visit Fulham on Sunday.
City made their intentions clear early as Rodri forced Vicente Guaita into a save from a volley while Jack Grealish dragged a good chance wide of the near post inside the first four minutes.
Palace came into the game more as the first half went on but were reliant on an uncharacteristic miss from Haaland as the Premier League's top scorer lifted a presentable effort over the bar from Nathan Ake's cross.
Guaita saved well from Phil Foden's free-kick 11 minutes into the second half, while substitute Julian Alvarez – who replaced Foden moments later – turned beautifully before firing his shot over.
It looked like Palace would hold out for a fifth-consecutive home draw before Michael Olise conceded a penalty by fouling Ilkay Gundogan after a short corner, allowing Haaland to send Guaita the wrong way from the spot and score his 28th league goal of the campaign.
The Norwegian had another chance with seven minutes remaining when he headed over from Grealish's cross, but City held on to put further pressure on Arsenal in the title race.
What does it mean? City keeping Arsenal honest
This was a tough game for Guardiola's men, but they have now earned 16 points from a possible 18 since their defeat to Tottenham last month, ensuring they keep Arsenal honest at the top of the table ahead of what looks like a tricky fixture for the Gunners on Sunday.
Palace have not won at home since October, though their four previous home games all ended in draws, including clashes against Manchester United, Newcastle United and Liverpool.
While Vieira's side are not playing badly, they will need to start winning games soon before they get sucked into the relegation battle, with their cushion now reduced to four points.
City rise to second-half challenge again
City have struggled against Palace in recent meetings, and had to come from 2-0 down at half-time to win at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season.
Each of City's last 10 goals against Palace in the Premier League have come in the second half of games and they have failed to score against the Eagles in the opening 45 minutes in each of their last five meetings.
Shot-shy Palace punished
While it was broadly an impressive performance from Palace, they did earn an unwanted Premier League record.
Their failure to record a shot on target made it three straight top-flight games without doing so, making them the first team since Opta started following such data (since 2003-04) to go that long without one.
It also makes it five games in total this season, the most in the league, while no side has failed to score in more different Premier League games than the Eagles this season (12).
Key Opta Stats:
- Man City are on the longest active unbeaten run in the Premier League (six games).
- No player has scored more Premier League penalties this season than Man City's Haaland (5, level with Ivan Toney). Only Yaya Toure has scored more from the spot in a single campaign for City(six in 2013-14).
- City have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four PL away games against Crystal Palace – against no side have they had a longer run of away shutouts (also four v Arsenal, Leicester and Sheff Utd).
- Haaland scored his 10th PL away goal this season. With 18 also scored at home, he is just the second City player to reach double figures both home and away in a single campaign after Sergio Aguero in 2014-15 (13 home, 13 away).
Palace travel to rivals Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Wednesday, while Man City host RB Leipzig in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 contest on Tuesday, with the tie level at 1-1.