Palace ruin Pep’s party

Agence France-Presse . London | Published: 23:29, Jan 19,2020

 
 

Pep Guardiola’s 49th birthday celebrations went flat as Fernandinho’s late own goal forced Manchester City to settle for a 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace, while Chelsea’s top-four bid was dented by a surprise 1-0 defeat at Newcastle on Saturday.

On a busy day of top-flight action, the pitchside VAR monitor was used in the Premier League for the first time at Norwich, with Tottenham forced to settle for a goalless stalemate at Watford and Arsenal held to a 1-1 draw by Sheffield United.

It was the drama at the Etihad Stadium that took the spotlight as Fernandinho’s last-gasp blunder left Guardiola in no mood to party after City’s faint hopes of retaining the title suffered another hammer blow.

The champions trail Liverpool by 13 points ahead of the runaway leaders’ clash with rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

‘It was a tight game. It’s difficult to analyse when they shoot from one corner and have no more chances,’ Guardiola said.

‘We had many chances, unfortunately we could not win.’

Cenk Tosun marked his first league start since his loan move from Everton with his maiden goal for the Eagles, the Turkish striker netting a close-range strike from Martin Kelly’s flick in the 39th minute.

Sergio Aguero appeared to have turned the game on its head in the 82nd minute when the Argentine striker bagged his 250th goal in 360 games for the club.

Aguero put City ahead in the 87th minute with a typically predatory header from Benjamin Mendy’s cross.

But there was a sting in the tale for Guardiola as Fernandinho turned Zaha’s cross into his own net in the 90th minute to end second-placed City’s run of three successive league wins.

Chelsea would have cemented their grip on fourth place with a win on Tyneside, but they were unable to muster the cutting edge required to break down stubborn Newcastle and fell to Isaac Hayden’s header with just 20 seconds left in stoppage-time, losing 1-0.

Chelsea’s first defeat in four league matches leaves them five points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United.

After four league games without a victory, this was a much-needed success for Newcastle, but a wasted opportunity for Chelsea to open up a bigger gap in the race to qualify for the Champions League.

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