Man City’s Title Hopes Dims With Loss Against Crystal Palace

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Manchester City’s hopes of defending their Premier League title were dealt a major blow as they were beaten 2-1 by in-form Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Glenn Murray struck his fifth goal in five league games and Jason Puncheon curled in a free-kick to keep City stuck in fourth, nine points off leaders Chelsea, who have a game in hand.

Pressure is now mounting on manager Manuel Pellegrini whose side, instead of challenging for top spot, find themselves faced more immediately by a scrap for a top-three place and automatic qualification for the Champions League group stages.

Palace, on the other hand, now have 39 points and are all-but assured of playing Premier League football next year – a remarkable transformation since Alan Pardew took over in January.

When Palace opened the scoring it came completely against the run of play. They were forced to weather an almighty storm for several minutes, with Sergio Aguero hitting the post, before they went up the other end and stunned the visitors. Joe Ledley flicked a header into the box and when Scott Dann’s volley was blocked, Murray was on hand to tap home.

City’s players were furious that the offside flag didn’t go up, and while replays showed Dann to be level when Ledley flicked on, question marks linger over whether Murray’s left foot was offside when Dann struck his effort.

City started the second half brightly but their deficit was doubled ten minutes in when Puncheon lined up a free-kick on the edge of the box and curled it delightfully over the wall and into the bottom corner.

With ten minutes remaining, Nasri bombed down the right and his cross was cleared only as far as Toure, who strode onto the ball, took a touch and thumped a left-footed strike into the corner to give the visitors hope.

The final minutes saw some backs-to-the-wall defending but the Eagles managed to hold out and were greeted at the whistle by an eruption of noise from an already-rocking Selhurst Park.

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