Manchester City’s record Premier League run ends after Crystal Palace draw

Manchester City’s record Premier League run ends after Crystal Palace draw
Manchester City's Nicolas Otamendi, left, competes for the ball with Crystal Palace's Martin Kelly during the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City at Selhurst Park in London, Sunday Dec. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Updated 31 December 2017

Manchester City’s record Premier League run ends after Crystal Palace draw

Manchester City’s record Premier League run ends after Crystal Palace draw

LONDON: Manchester City’s record run of victories came to an end on Sunday after a goalless draw against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

But it could have been worse for Pep Guardiola’s side had Palace converted a 91st-minute penalty — Luka Milivojevic hitting a weak penalty straight at goalkeeper Ederson after Wilfred Zaha was adjudged to have been pushed in the box by Raheem Sterling.

Pep Guardiola’s side had 75 percent of the possession during the game but were unable to break down a committed and organized Palace defense.

Having won 18 straight Premier League matches, the stalemate marked the first time since a 1-1 draw against Everton in August that City had not picked up maximum points.

On a frustrating day for the league leaders, Palace’s resistance could not be broken, with the visitors only managing four shots on target all match. It was an uncharacteristically lacklustre performance from City, who lacked the clinical edge seen during their remarkable run of wins in recent months.

The home side looked to hit Guardiola’s team on the break in the early stages, going close after a quarter of an hour from a Patrick van Aanholt strike from outside the box, but had to deal with the loss of their inspirational defender Scott Dann who was stretchered off within the first 20 minutes.

City came back into the match on the half-hour mark, the substitute Sergio Aguero — on for the injured Gabriel Jesus — hitting the woodwork with a deflected shot. It was a brief highlight in what was a tight and attritional first half. So often the drivers of City’s creativity this season, both Kevin de Bruyne and Leroy Sane had poor games, which prompted Guardiola to bring on Sterling early in the second half.

But City were unable to create a chance of any real worth as the game ticked toward its conclusion, before the contentious penalty decision burst the game back into life. Sterling was penalized for a push on Palace’s Zaha and referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot. Milivojevic’s tame spot-kick was easily saved by City’s Brazilian goalkeeper.

The afternoon got worse for Manchester City when their best player of the season de Bruyne had to be carried off with a nasty-looking injury, having been hacked down by Palace captain Jason Puncheon.

The point, however, puts City further ahead of second-placed Chelsea who are 14 points behind Guardiola’s team.