Player ratings as Haaland penalty keep title push alive

Manchester City secured a 1-0 win away at Crystal Palace on Saturday night to move within two points of Arsenal at the top of the Premier League.

Erling Haaland’s penalty kick in the second half sealed a game with precious few chances in open play. Haaland himself was guilty of squandering City’s best openers either side of the penalty spot while Palace became the first team in Premier League history to go three consecutive matches without scoring an effort on goal.

City started quickly, winning a corner which led to a powerful shot on goal from Rodri before Palace completed one pass. But my host Patrick Vieira survived cityA storm in the middle of a downpour in south London blocked the central part of the pitch by marking each of the three visiting midfielders.

Pep Guardiola’s wily players battled the Velcro’s attention by alternating positions. City left-back Nathan Ake played the inside role of Bernardo Silva midway through the first half, popping into the penalty area and sprinting Halland who was overwhelmed by astonishment from seven yards away.

However, try as they might, City couldn’t replicate the float-forward circular spin from years past. Guardiola injected the direct running of Julian Alvarez into endless bouts of side-passing shortly after the restart. Almost works instantly. Within two minutes of his substitutions, Alvarez lunged into Palace’s box but leaned back as he opened his body and placed the ball over the crossbar.

After that stubborn determination for 75 minutes, Palace gave City a chance to take the lead with their first collective lapse of concentration. Coach Vieira’s team had received five set pieces at their lowest level in the league before entering the competition, but stopped when he was preparing to defend a corner kick for City.

Ilkay Gundogan was wide open to get a short pass into the box which he defended past Michael Ulis who came past to make up but only managed to miss a penalty which Haaland volleyed into the bottom corner.

The reigning champions managed to hold out the first whispers of a sustained attack from Palace in the dying minutes, but held on to close the gap at the top and extend the winless start into 2023 that Vieira’s side have struggled with.

Michael Ulis, Jack Grealish

Michael Ulis of Crystal Palace (left) spent some time at Manchester City’s academy/Alex Buntling/Getty Images

Goalkeeper: Vicente Guaita – 7/10 – Alert and energetic to the efforts that fizzled his way.

Right-back: Nathaniel Clyne – 4/10 – He often outpaced City as he enjoyed his best foray forward down Klein’s wing.

Center back: Joachim Andersen – 6/10 – Impressive from the air when City resorted to crosses.

Center back: Marc Guehi – 4/10 – So worried about the threat Haaland presented that he followed the Norwegian great into the dugout while Guardiola gave instructions to the striker.

Left-back: Terek Mitchell – 6/10 – He wasn’t comfortable when Phil Foden ran on him but he limited those scenarios well.

CM: Albert Sambi Lukonga – 7/10 – He diligently stuck to his mission of following Ilkay Gundogan wherever he wandered.

Midfielder: Luka Milivojevic – 3/10 – Reckless in his attempts to unsettle Rodri, one of the players shows rust Premier League Starting from October.

CM: Jeffrey Schlupp – 7/10 – Fill in countless gaps in midfield and defense.

RW: Michael Ulis – 5/10 – The competition was filled with only fleeting glimpses of his apparent skill before undermining his team’s hard work with a single step.

Attacker: Wilfried Zaha – 6/10 – Like a runner crouching in the starting blocks, always preparing to break away on the counter.

Left-back: Jordan Ayew – 6/10 – As always, Ayew’s industry reduced his offensive productivity but he battled for Vieira’s side valiantly.


Nauru Ahmada (61 minutes for Milivojevic) – 5/10

Joel Ward (71 minutes for Cline) – 5/10

Ebere Eze (80′ for Schlupp) – N/A

Odsonne Edouard (80 minutes to Ayew) – N/A


Patrick Vieira – 4/10 – The Frenchman put his side down to thwart the command, which they certainly did. Unfortunately, they also thwarted Vieira.

Pep Guardiola

City boss Pep Guardiola has shared the field with Palace manager Patrick Vieira four times during their footballing careers/Alex Buntling/Getty Images

GK: Ederson – 6/10 – Like many opposition goalkeepers at Selhurst Park, Ederson was not given much to do.

Right-back: John Stones – 5/10 – He stepped into midfield when City had possession but didn’t seem to have the confidence of his team mates to always get a pass in tight spaces.

Central defender: Manuel Akanji – 4/10 – Oftentimes there is a rash when confronting Zaha, giving away many needless free kicks.

Center back: Ruben Dias – 6/10 – Proactive on and off the ball as he tackles and passes forward.

Left-back: Nathan Ake – 7/10 – He didn’t look out of place when venturing further up the field than he normally would.

Midfielder: Bernardo Silva – 6/10 – Covered in mud almost from the start whistle, Bernardo canceled out the afternoon’s run.

CM: Rodri – 7/10 – City’s deepest midfielder was at the end of some of the team’s more dangerous attempts in the first half but orchestrated his side’s play throughout.

CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 4/10 – He walked out with his weak step but physical palace approach.

RW: Phil Foden – 3/10 – Unusually sloppy as the naturally immaculate first touch fails him again and again.

Striker: Erling Haaland – 7/10 – He missed a big opportunity in the first half because he spent more time sabotaging than shooting. But in the end he held his nerve when it mattered most.

Left-back: Jack Grealish – 4/10 – He’s always more menacing when he’s sporting friendly neon jerseys close by but lacks his latest pass on the last pass.


Julian Alvarez (58 min for Foden) – 5/10 – He made a change in the formation to a 4-4-2 but, like Haaland, was guilty of squandering a clear vision of goal.

Kevin De Bruyne (79 min for Bernardo) – N/A

Kyle Walker (89 minutes to the Stones) – N/A


Pep Guardiola – 6/10 – He constantly tried to change the game off the bench with countless tweaks and substitutions but in the end he relied on a cheap penalty kick.

Man of the match – Rodri (Man City).

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