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Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace: Final score 1-0, Džeko leads City past stubborn Palace

Crystal Palace held on as long as they could, but in the end couldn't stop City from taking over first place in the league table.

Clint Hughes

It took 66 minutes and nearly 20 shots before Manchester City was finally able to break down Crystal Palace's stubborn defense. Edin Džeko's short-range shot did the damage and City moved provisionally on top of the Premier League with the victory.

The most unsurprising thing about the opening 20 minutes of the match was that Manchester City had basically all the meaningful possession and pinned Palace deep in their defensive third. The most surprising thing, however, was that City failed to get on the scoreboard. It certainly wasn't for lack of trying, though, as City generated six shots in that span, but failed to get any on target.

Cameron Jerome collided with City goalkeeper Joe Hart in the 30th minute, opening up a nasty cut underneath the keeper's left eye. Jerome limped off with a knee injury and was replaced by Marouane Chamakh. Hart was able to continue after several minutes of treatment, although he looked quite ghoulish.

City's best chance of the half came in stoppage time when Fernandinho, with his back to goal, directed a header off a James Milner cross that looked destined to finally put the home side ahead. Instead, goalkeeper Julian Speroni made an excellent save, pushing the ball over the crossbar to preserve the deadlock.

Tony Pulis' classic disruptive, defensive football continued to work in the second half as City simply couldn't find a way past the wall of red and blue in front of the goal. Finally, in the 67th minute, the deciding goal arrived.

The goal was created in large part due to City finally getting some space in the Palace box. Jesús Navas got free on the right side and found Džeko free 15-yards out with a quick pass. The Bosnian striker didn't bother with a touch, firing the ball as soon as it arrived past Speroni to finally put City ahead 1-0.

Palace nearly answered off the subsequent restart, but Joel Ward was denied by Hart with an excellent save. It was a crucial save as City failed to find another goal, escaping with an unimpressive but nonetheless vital three points.

Manchester City: Hart, Boyata (Negredo 55'), Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Garcia, Fernandinho (Nasri 55'), Navas, Silva, Milner (Kolarov 75'), Džeko

Goals: Džeko (66')

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney, Parr, Ward, Jedinak, Bannan (Gayle 81'), Puncheon, Bolasie (Williams 76'), Jerome (Chamakh 35')

Goals: None