BY MATT WOOSNAM
Crystal Palace stunned Manchester City to record their first league win in Manchester in 28 years.
Despite going behind, the Eagles rallied superbly and equalised through Jeffrey Schlupp, before Andros Townsend put them ahead with a screamer, and Luka Milivojevic struck a second-half penalty as they ended City’s unblemished home record in style.
Vicente Guaita was forced into action in just the second minute when Fabian Delph fired a piledriver towards goal from the edge of the area, but the Spaniard was agile enough to palm the ball over his crossbar.
Leroy Sane then fired into the side netting on 11 minutes after Mamadou Sakho’s pass was intercepted as City looked to capitalise on any sense of weakness from Palace.
Palace continued to sit deep, but the hosts began creating half-chances, with Raheem Sterling’s miscued shot finding Bernardo Silva who took aim from the edge of the six yard box, only to find Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the way to deny him the opening goal.
Ilkay Gundogan did eventually break the stubborn Eagles defence just short of the half hour mark when he nodded in from Delph’s pinpoint cross. It capped a fine, albeit simple, team move, but the midfielder was totally free with neither Sakho or Van Aanholt picking up.
The goal was far from surprising when it arrived. City had gently probed at the defence, for the most part just biding their time, but when a mistake arrived, they had the quality to punish it.
They did not need to knock hard on the door, and as much as an early Christmas present was gifted from the visitors they deserved their opener.
Out of nowhere, however, Palace equalised. It was a move of real quality from Jeffrey Schlupp, brought in to replace Cheikhou Kouyate.
The midfielder played an inch-perfect crossfield pass to Zaha, who took it down well, beat his man and squared to James McArthur who was felled. But the ball came to Schlupp who fired a brilliant effort across Ederson’s body into the far corner.
Few would scarcely believe what happened next.
Andros Townsend struck as perfect a volley as you will ever see, from 25 yards, straight as an arrow into the back of the net to put Palace 2-1 ahead after City failed to adequately clear Patrick van Aanholt’s free-kick.
They held on relatively untroubled for the remainder of the half, and although Aymeric Laporte headed narrowly wide early on in the second period, it was Palace who went further ahead.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka produced an excellent run and cross down the right after beating his man, only to see Townsend’s header come back off the post.
But Max Meyer was sharp enough to react, and drew a foul from a lunging Kyle Walker. Andre Marriner pondered for a second before awarding a penalty, which Milivojevic duly despatched to make amends for last season’s miss in the final minute of the reverse fixture.
Gundogan went close with a driving effort from distance on 70 minutes, before Sane was unfortunate to see his curling free-kick come back off the post as City piled on the pressure. Palace held firm until the 85th minute when a deep Kevin de Bruyne cross looped over Guaita and into the back of the net as the Etihad stadium erupted and Blue Moon reverberated around the ground.
City should have earned themselves a point in stoppage time but Gabriel Jesus got underneath a header unmarked on the edge of the six yard box and Palace held on to a remarkble victory.
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