Wilfried Zaha scored early and drew an Aymeric Laporte red card before halftime as Patrick Vieira continues to bewitch his former teams, this time leading Crystal Palace to a 2-0 win over 10-man Manchester City to shake up the Premier League title race.
Conor Gallagher scored late to salt away the win, the Chelsea loanee adding to the Blues joy by knocking off what had been the Premier League’s best statistical team this season.
WATCH MAN CITY vs CRYSTAL PALACE FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK
Defending PL champs City will finish the matchweek five points off the top of the table with 20 on the season. The third-place Citizens are four points ahead of fifth-place Arsenal.
Palace boss Vieira adds an away win over City to an away draw with Arsenal earlier in the season, and the Eagles are 13th despite losing just twice this season due to six draws.
[ WATCH: Premier League on NBC Sports in the USA ]
Man City vs Crystal Palace final score, stats
Final score: Manchester City 0, Crystal Palace 2
Scorers: Zaha (6′), Gallagher (88′)
Red card: Laporte (45’+1)
Shot attempts: Man City, 14-8.
Shots on goal: Even, 3-3
Possession: Man City, 68%
Three things we learned from Man City vs Crystal Palace
1. The system(s) worked: It says something that Patrick Vieira’s design to counter through Wilfried Zaha and Co. was plenty good, the Eagles taking an early lead and threatening to make it 2-0 on multiple occasions. But it also says something that finish-weary Man City could go down a man for 45 minutes and look like they play that way all the time. Pep Guardiola can’t have many complaints about the red card but knowing him he’ll think the actual football down a man was plenty good enough, albeit without that all-important finish. City had 73% of the ball in the first half and 63% down a man. They just needed the finish.
2. Zaha is perfect for the task at hand: Work hard, use your quickness, frustrate, and talk trash along the way? It’s the perfect resume for Wilfried Zaha to deliver a signature moment to his boss Patrick Vieira, who if anything should be lauded for how he’s learned to handle his attacking talent after falling out with several, including a young Allan Saint-Maximin, in his early jobs.
3. They do still need a striker: Pep Guardiola’s not lying when he says City can win without a terrific center forward, but he’s being disingenuous if he implies he wouldn’t fast-forward to January right now to get a traditional option for finishing. City was still very good down a man, but great chances would be at a premium. Gotta finish then, and Kevin De Bruyne is in a bit of a slump considering his lofty standards, too.
Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha
Scored the goal, had another taken away by offside, and drew the red card in between
Man City vs Crystal Palace recap
A miserable giveaway caused by a busy Conor Gallagher allowed Palace the chance to go in-front, and Zaha used placement more than power to push the ball past his defender and beyond the reach of Ederson for 1-0 in the sixth minute.
Who knows if Palace planned on staying wide open, but Patrick Vieira’s men had reason to be a bit more cautious now.
It was all about the counter for Palace, as expected, and that’s how Zaha helped deliver a man advantage to the Eagles when Aymeric Laporte was judged to have dragged hauled him down as the last man back. It was all to do, as they say, for City from that point forward.
Palace had a second Zaha goal called offside — and rightly so — moments before Phil Foden’s delightful cross was put in by a leaping Gabriel Jesus from a tough angle.
Gallagher stabbed an Olise cross home in traffic for a classy goal to finish the score line.