Loss to Palace a huge blow for City's title hopes in EPL
Manchester City fell further out of title contention by losing 2-1 to Crystal Palace in the English Premier League yesterday, dropping to fourth in the standings and all but surrendering their championship defence.
Glen Murray and Jason Puncheon put Palace 2-0 ahead by the 48th minute, despite City controlling 74 per cent of possession at Selhurst Park. Yaya TourÈ pulled one back with a fierce shot in the 78th, but the defending champions fell short of a comeback and are now nine points behind leaders Chelsea, which also have a game in hand.
"We are not talking about the title, only about winning our games," City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. "We will see at the end of the season which team has the most points."
City dropped below both Arsenal and Manchester United, who they will face next weekend, but are still seven points above fifth-place Liverpool.
Palace are virtually assured of staying up after reaching 39 points with seven rounds to go, sitting in 11th place.
"For us, it was a huge night. You have the champions coming to your place knowing they're under pressure," Palace manager Alan Pardew said. "We didn't see enough of the ball really ... but diligence, character, resilience was enough just to see us home."
Palace's opener came against the run of play in the 34th minute as Joe Ledley headed down a cross towards Scott Dann, whose shot was blocked by goalkeeper Joe Hart, but fell for Murray to tap in at the far post. City's players appealed furiously for offside and replays suggested Dann had been marginally behind the last defender, but the flag stayed down.
There was no arguing about the second goal - except perhaps about Hart's positioning - as Puncheon lifted a free-kick over the wall to beat the goalkeeper at the near post.
TourÈ finally provided a breakthrough when he controlled the ball just inside the right edge of the area and unleashed a hard shot into the far corner, but Pellegrini's team couldn't prevent a third loss in their last five games.
They probably can't prevent Chelsea from winning the title, either.
"Every time we drop points, it's a big blow, especially at the end of the season," Pellegrini said. "But we must try to continue playing the way we did today."