Zaha and Gallagher strike as Crystal Palace stun 10-man Manchester City | Premier League

Pep Guardiola’s 200th Premier League match leading Manchester City was ruined by a sparkling show of power and bubbling from Wilfried Zaha, which gave Patrick Vieira, the returning alumni, the sweetest of victories as Crystal Palace manager.

Zaha scored the first after six minutes, helped create Conor Gallagher’s late clincher and generally terrorized Rúben Dias and Aymeric Laporte, causing the latter to be sent off during a poor finish in the first half.

If the defender deserved his penalty for breaking Zaha to the turf as the last man, City gathered impressively after the break but could not find an equalizer. That meant the champions lost a second league game of the season and a first at home since May, leaving Guardiola with 146 wins and 29 defeats from his double century.

For the opening goal, Zaha hit the ball from a shaking Laporte, swapped passes with Gallagher and, while the angle was closing, he hit Ederson to his left, the goalkeeper perhaps defeated by a bubble. This silenced the spectators, who had witnessed the concession of a league goal for the first time in this period, with 456 minutes in total since Chelsea scored here.

City’s response was expected: a blue swarm intruding on possession, with Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Kyle Walker and Bernardo Silva moving Palace around. A sequence ended with João Cancelo claiming City’s first corner, and as this fell into the area, Rodri hit the ball into Vicente Guaita’s center.

Palace, led by James McArthur and Cheikhou Kouyaté, were quick to push and strangle City at the source. Another important tactic was to feed Zaha a ball in midfield that tested Dias’ defensive abilities, which tried to match him. Guardiola’s men struggled all the way to find solutions to these clever tricks from Vieira.

Boos became the competition’s soundtrack. These were from City enthusiasts, who despite the fact that only 30 minutes had passed, suggested that Palace was a waste of time – Guardiola would later quote the tactic.

Manchester City and Palace players clash during the break after Aymeric Laporte's red card
Manchester City and Palace players clash during the break after Aymeric Laporte’s red card. Photo: Micah Crook / PPAUK / Shutterstock

When Grealish led a rush forward, No. 10 fed Jesus, who shot into a diving Marc Guéhi before Palace were finally awarded a goal kick. Cue more scorn. Then came moans as a passage of slippery football was spoiled by Cancelo lifting a diagonal into the seats behind Guaita.

One of Guardiola’s main concerns was how his side’s high line was pierced. Odsonne Édouard did it with a pass that left Dias maroon and Zaha skated towards Ederson, City saved by an offside flag. However, nothing could help Laporte the next time Zaha blasted out when the center-back took him down. Andre Marriner reluctantly made way for VAR on the pitch.

When the match started again, City went in dice losing the plot: Silva chopped that man down again – Zaha – and got a warning; at the break, Ederson followed for further contempt. As the players walked out of the break, Silva was spied on and placed a sarcastic hand on the assistant referee at the benches.

Palace began the second half with a gilded chance to defeat the 10 men, now set up in a 3-3-3. But the champions did not give in easily: Rodri quickly blasted over, so after Grealish had taken a corner, the ball broke to the Foot, whose cross slid across the area.

The foot was about to see a sublime assist chalk off to a marginal offside. John Stones, who had just come in for De Bruyne, chipped to the midfielder, whose immediate control and precise parable found Jesus, who finished before VAR intervened.

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In this refreshing spectacle, Jordan Ayew dismissed a chance up close before Ederson struck a violent Gallagher shot on the near post. When Walker sprayed the ball wildly across, it indicated that it was Palace’s day.

It was: Gallagher’s finish, from a post, sealed it, after sweet Zaha footwork. Vieira deserves great credit for the view. On this show, he may return in the future – to become City’s manager.

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