Manchester City came through a tougher-than-expected test to record a 1-0 win at home against Crystal Palace in their Premier League game on Saturday.
Manchester City are top of the Premier League.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 28, 2013
It was a relatively low-key first half which saw few clear-cut chances for either team, despite City dominating possession with James Milner and David Silva striking off target.
The first real incident of note came when Cameron Jerome collided with Joe Hart, leaving the keeper with a cut and bruised face and seeing the striker subbed with a leg injury.
Fernandinho was the game's best player in the opening 45 minutes, combining some excellent control with a rare threat at goal, with Julian Speroni saving a header from the Brazilian and another volley flying just over.
After half time it didn't take long for boss Pellegrini to introduce attackers Samir Nasri and Alvaro Negredo, though it was starting striker Edin Dzeko who opened the scoring after the hour mark by firing home from eight yards out from Jesus Navas' pull-back.
Palace threatened intermittently with Jason Puncheon a particular threat cutting in from the right to shoot on his left, but in reality Hart only had one major save to make, a low dive to his left to prevent Joel Ward's volley finding the bottom corner.
City had a few chances to double their lead but ultimately looked happy to continue their winning run and move top of the table.
Key Player Grades
Fernandinho was arguably the best player on the pitch, and it was something of a surprise when he was taken off in the second half, though he was perhaps always intended to get something of a rest at some point against Palace. He went close to scoring and was aggressive in his runs off the ball in a more offensive role than usual in midfield.
Jason Puncheon: B
Puncheon defended well down the Palace right for most of the game, doubling up against Milner when necessary, but he also carried Palace's biggest threat in attack. His pace and willingness to shoot from range gave City's defenders a few problems on the break and he was unlucky not to score.
City go top ahead of Arsenal's game on Sunday. They face Swansea City away on new year's day and will be without the suspended David Silva, who received a fifth yellow against Palace. The relegation battlers themselves will play at home to Norwich City in an important clash on the same day.