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Yaya Toure double sinks Palace

GOAL: Yaya Toure (centre) scores for Man City on Saturday

TWO CRUCIAL mistakes by Crystal Palace at crucial moments consigned them to their fifth straight league defeat as Manchester City beat them 2-1 and saw them drop perilously close to the drop zone (November 19).

The hosts put in a decent performance but they switched off at vital moments of the game. City made seven changes with one eye on their midweek Champions League game.

Not surprisingly City took a while to settle into the game and Palace started off brightly as they moved the ball around quickly and pressed them. However they were not really pulling up any trees in terms of creating chances.

City captain Vincent Company, whose injury woes are well documented, took a blow to the head from his own keeper Claudio Bravo. He was given medical treatment and came back on. However he did not totally recover and had to be replaced eventually by Pablo Zabaleta.

With just six minutes to the break Palace committed suicide when Martin Kelly gave the ball away outside the Palace area when a clearance to Row Z would have sufficed. They did not survive as Nolito pounced and played a simple pass to Yaya Toure who slotted his shot past Wayne Hennessey via a deflection off James Tomkins.

Up to that point, Palace were containing City and looked the brighter of the two sides. However with the quality City possess they could turn the game just like the flick of a switch at any minute. That was Toure’s first league goal in his first league start. City led at the break.

In the 55th minute Palace came close to levelling the game. Jason Puncheon tied the city defence in knots and eventually found Christian Benteke who soared above the City defence and laid a header down for Wifried Zaha but his shot was deflected for a corner. That was Palace’s best passage of play in the game.

From a swift City attack Sergio Aguero nearly made it two as he hit a shot across Hennessey who got a hand the ball, which was still heading into the net until Joel Ward made a goal line clearance. From an immediate counter attack the ball came to Connor Wickham who rifled his shot past Bravo to bring the Eagles level.

Kevin De Bruyne put a cross into the Palace area but Raheem Sterling knew nothing about it as the ball hit him and bounced out of play. In the 83rd minute a low corner kick was fizzed into the Palace area by De Bruyne, which found Toure unmarked and he stabbed the ball home to restore City’s lead. That goal was straight out of the training ground manual but Palace’s defending was awful.

In stoppage time Palace had sight of goal as Wilfried Zaha got down the byline and crossed the ball to Puncheon but the ball hit him on his leg and spun out for a goal kick and with that Palace’s chance of salvaging a point from this game evaporated.

City were not at their best and had some awkward moments at times in the game. However they did not need to as Palace came bearing gifts and we are not even in December yet. City have bigger goals to target this season but Palace boss Pardew must find a way to rescue their alarming dip in form which has seen them win only three matches in the last 26 league games stretching back to last season.

City head coach Pep Guardiola said: “It was not our best performance. We were not brilliant. After our draws at home and the international break it was important we won. “

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