English Premiership

City reel in leaders Chelsea

2014-12-20 16:50
David Silva (AP Photo)

Manchester - David Silva filled in for Manchester City's absent strikers as the champions beat Crystal Palace 3-0 on Saturday to move level on points with Premier League leaders Chelsea.

City were missing Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic due to injury, but they secured an eighth consecutive victory in all competitions thanks to Silva's second-half brace and a late Yaya Toure strike.

Victory left City level on 39 points with Chelsea, who remain top by virtue of a superior goal difference (+23 to +22) ahead of their trip to Stoke City on Monday.

"It was a very good win. A very good performance. I enjoyed the way the team worked the whole week -- to work in a different way without strikers," said City manager Manuel Pellegrini.

"I did think December is a key month to be in the fight for the title, and if you want to be involved you must be very near the top of the table. I hope we continue playing like this."

Faced with an injury glut in the attacking department, Pellegrini deployed England midfielder James Milner as an auxiliary striker at the Etihad Stadium.

City goalkeeper Joe Hart signed a new five-year contract on Friday and he was quickly called into action, producing a sharp point-blank save to repel Mile Jedinak's header.

Yannick Bolasie then set up Fraizer Campbell to lash a close-range overhead kick narrowly wide of Hart's goal, but gradually City began to pick their way through Palace's defences.

Toure shot over twice, Samir Nasri teed up Silva to prod wide, and Pablo Zabaleta scooped a shot just off target from Toure's piercing through-ball.

The breakthrough arrived four minutes into the second half. From Fernandinho's pass, Zabaleta scuttled into the area before cutting the ball back for Silva, who beat Julian Speroni with the aid of a deflection off Scott Dann.

Silva claimed his second goal in the 61st minute, neatly steering home at the near post from Aleksandar Kolarov's left-wing centre.

James McArthur thought he had replied for Palace moments later when he headed Bolasie's cross past a statuesque Hart, but although Fernandinho appeared to have played him onside, the assistant referee's flag went up.

Palace manager Neil Warnock called it "a disgraceful decision".

Toure made the game safe for City in the 81st minute, collecting a square pass from Milner and slamming home left-footed at the near post.


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