Crystal Palace do Liverpool huge favor as Man City draw narrows Premier League title race – John Cross

Crystal Palace just about managed to hang on against Manchester City in a result that may have wide-ranging consequences in the Premier League title race

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In pictures: Crystal Palace v Man City

In the tightest of title races, it will inevitably come down to small margins.

And that is why this could be such a big moment in this year’s epic between Manchester City and Liverpool.

Now Liverpool do hold the destiny in their own hands as City dropped two precious points on a night of frustration and near misses at Selhurst Park.

Eight years ago, this was the place where Liverpool’s title charge blew up when they conceded three goals in the last 11 minutes and Crystal Palace drew 3-3 to hand City the title.

The red half of Merseyside were undoubtedly watching and praying for Palace to do them a huge favor this time – and that is exactly what they got.

Twice City hit the post, a lick of paint denying Joao Cancelo and then Kevin De Bruyne as Pep Guardiola was left holding his head in his hands on the touchline.

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A frustrated Kevin De Bruyne against Crystal Palace
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PA)

City had so much pressure, so much possession, so many chances and yet they just could find the net on a night of nerves and frustration.

It was always going to be about who would blink first in this season’s title race and, even with nine games still to go, City will know they might have handed the initiative to Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Liverpool go to Arsenal on Wednesday night to play their game in hand with the chance to close the gap to one point before the two titans meet at the Etihad on April 10.

That could be the day which decides the title race because these two incredible teams so rarely slip up which makes City’s draw at Selhurst Park all the most costly.







Crystal Palace battled hard for their point
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Action Images via Reuters)

Palace defended as if their lives depended on it, keeper Vicente Guaita made a string of heroic saves and even De Bruyne at his best could not find the killer ball or decisive touch.

Twice Guaita came to his side’s rescue, pushing John Stones’ long range effort past the post and also making a smart reflex save from De Bruyne’s clever flick.

City then went agonizingly close in the 27th minute when Joao Cancelo’s 30 yard shot smashed against the post and Aymeric Laporte fired the rebound over the bar, albeit the ball came to him in a flash.

Mahrez curled an effort inches wide just before half time but City just could not find a way through as Palace’s defense refused to give the visitors an inch.

You could sense City upping their game from the start of the second half, almost pinning Palace back in their own half as they went in search of the all important breakthrough.

Quite how City did not get the ball in the net in the 59th minute is anyone’s guess. De Bruyne’s cross shot hit the inside of the post, Mahrez follow-up effort was brilliantly blocked on the line by Guaita. The offside flag went up but VAR might have had a different view if the ball went in.

You could feel the tension building on the touchline, City were almost laying siege and you felt nervous just looking at Guardiola.







A despondent Guardiola at full-time
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Action Images via Reuters)

Palace boss Patrick Vieira began his coaching career at City, working his way up before branching out and has clearly learned from the best.

They were almost impossible to break down and when Jack Grealish flashed a low cross towards Bernardo Silva, the Portugal midfielder just could not apply the finishing touch.

Small margins but they might just decide where the title ends up in May.

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