Manchester City’s grip on the Premier League title got even weaker as Crystal Palace earned a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium following a dramatic final 10 minutes.
Kevin De Bruyne hit the bar early on with a brilliant 30-yard free kick, but Palace scored against the run of play as Cenk Tosun headed home at the far post from a corner (39), the visitors’ first and only effort of the first half.
City had a penalty correctly overturned by VAR in the second half following a Jairo Riedewald handball, before sub Gabriel Jesus curled a beauty for Sergio Aguero to convert at the far post (82).
Aguero got his second and what looked to be the winner with a fine header (87), but Palace refused to feel sorry for themselves as Wilfried Zaha forced a Fernandinho own goal (90).
The result means City are 13 points behind Liverpool, who have two games in hand, the first of which comes against Manchester United on Super Sunday. Palace, meanwhile, are ninth, four points off the top six.
City dominated the first half, but were faced by a tight and prepared Palace unit as they struggled to break them down, 13 months after Palace had famously won here thanks to Andros Townsend’s stunning volley.
They came closest from a free kick as De Bruyne’s knuckled effort hit the underside of the bar, while at the other end Palace were denied a penalty as Zaha went down in the box under John Stones’ challenge, but referee Graham Scott, and then VAR, adjudged that the Palace man had instigated the contact.
City continued to probe – they had 71 per cent possession in the first half and 10 shots – but were outdone by a corner as Gary Cahill’s superb header across goal found Tosun lurking unmarked at the back post. He did the rest, directing a header into the far corner for only his third club goal in just under a year.
Pep Guardiola’s 49th birthday had not started well, but it began to improve in the second half. City started to move the ball quicker and were awarded a penalty by Scott with 20 minutes remaining for a handball by Riedewald from a right-wing cross. However, VAR showed the ball had ricocheted off his foot and onto his hand, and the decision was overturned in accordance to handball rules.
Guardiola brought Jesus on, and the Brazilian set up the leveller, curling a fine ball to the back post for Aguero to turn home on the stretch, and the comeback was seemingly complete five minutes later as Benjamin Mendy’s left-wing ball was brilliantly headed into the ground and out of Vicente Guaita’s grasp with three minutes remaining.
But that did not flatten Palace and, in particular, Zaha, who piled his way to the left byline shortly after, and saw his low cross inadvertently turned home by Fernandinho under his own crossbar.
The title was always out of City’s grasp – according to Guardiola – but momentum is key going into a heavy period of cup games, with Palace again showing what it takes to stop the City juggernaut at the Etihad.