City v Crystal Palace Barclays Premier League match report 28 December 2013 - Manchester City FC

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    Dzeko 67mins

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  • 28 December 2013 17:00
  • Posted by @baileymcfc

Edin Dzeko’s 50th City goal propelled the Blues to the top of the Premier League for the first time this season.

His 66th minute strike added lustre to a perfect domestic home record under boss Manual Pellegrini and inched the Blues closer to the record for scoring in consecutive EPL matches on their home ground.

The powerfully hit winner ended more than an hour of frustration at the Etihad during which Joe Hart was the busier – and more bruised – of the goalkeepers. He was named man of the match and justifiably so.

The fact that City fans saw the England number one as the afternoon’s main man spoke volumes for the kind of ninety minutes this was.

... Chris Bailey

Dzeko slotted home with authority and precision after Damien Delaney had headed Samir Nasri’s cross straight to Jesus Navas. The Spain winger picked out the Bosnian with unerring accuracy.

Group celeb

The roar that greeted the game’s only goal was a mixture of throaty relief and unadulterated pleasure.

This was the 60th match in succession that those buying a seat in the Etihad Stadium had seen City find the back of the net; seven more and the team will have obliterated United’s old mark from the history books.

For the record the last side to prevent City from scoring in a home game was Birmingham City under Alex McLeish back in November 2010.

This was not the rout that the league table or the soothsayers predicted from a City side still harbouring hopes of glory on four fronts this season.  It was though achieved without Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and Alvaro Negredo in the starting line up as Pellegrini made half a dozen changes to the side that defeated Liverpool.

Milner

A largely drab and predictable first half saw wave after wave of Sky Blue attacks hit the rocks and disperse to nothing. Palace played eight or nine behind the ball; City couldn’t find a way through and it was hugely exasperating for supporters fed on a constant diet of high speed excellence.

The two best home chances of the opening 45 minutes both fell to Fernandinho who was playing in a more advanced role. First he half-volleyed just inches too high after creating space for himself in the box and then brought a fine save out of Speroni via a flicked header.

The only other incident of note was a black and bloody eye for Hart who was hurt by Cameron Jerome’s trailing knee as the two tussled for the ball deep in the City box.

The second half began in similar pedestrian fashion with Palace looking the more likely in the opening exchanges as Puncheon brought a fine save from Hart with a long range effort.

Enter Alvaro Negredo and Samir Nasri as the would-be saviours but still Palace looked just as likely to score and Hart had to perform more heroics to deny Mile Jedinak from long range.

Then Dzeko struck and all was well.

... Chris Bailey

That this game was such hard work was as much testament to Palace’s homework and dedication to the game plan as it was to the home side’s tiredness or any complacency.

Goal mouth

Much merriment is had by opposition fans regarding manager Tony Pulis’ match day attire, his loyalty to club kit has spawned a canon of fun-poking musical works, but his ability to get the best out of those in his charge is no laughing matter – unless you are his chairman.

For several seasons he made Stoke a difficult side to play against and in doing so established them as a Premier League club and now his own brand of alchemy has already seemingly worked its magic at Selhurst Park.

The Eagles are not quite soaring yet but on this evidence they are furiously flapping their wings and creating undercurrents that, at least before this game, had them floating out of the bottom three and away from the dreaded Premier League trap door.

Javi

A win on Boxing Day at Aston Villa, only their second three-point haul on the road this season, infused Palace with confidence for their trip to the Etihad but these are not the games that will determine whether or not they will have a second consecutive season in the top flight.

Despite a lack of recovery time and some untimely injuries City were not about to pass up on the opportunity to hit the top of the table for the first time under Pellegrini. It wasn’t pretty but it is worth as much as the hammerings handed out to United, Spurs and Arsenal.

Now five away games beckon in January, in three different competitions; no side will go into 2014 with higher hopes or more confidence than Manchester City.

The only sour note from the day was the late yellow card issued to Silva who will now miss City's trip to the Liberty Stadium on New Year's Day through suspension.

Match details

Saturday 28 December 2013, 3:00PM

Etihad Stadium Att:47,250
Barclays Premier League

Referee:
Jon Moss

Teams

Manchester City:

Hart, Boyata (Negredo 54), Clichy, Nastasic, Kompany, Garcia, Fernandinho (Nasri 54), Silva, Milner (Kolarov 75), Navas, Dzeko

Unused subs:
Pantilimon, Lescott, Rodwell, Yaya Toure

Bookings:
Silva

Crystal Palace:

Speroni, Ward, Mariappa, Parr, Gabbidon, Bannan (Gayle 81), Delaney, Puncheon, Jedinak, Bolasie (Williams 76), Jerome (Chamakh 35)

Unused subs:
Campana, Phillips, Moxey, Price

Bookings:
Delaney

All times are taken from a live feed and are approximate at time of publishing.

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