Manchester City overcame a stubborn Crystal Palace side to record a comfortable 2-0 win courtesy of the in-form Shaun Wright-Phillips and star striker Carlos Tevez, who recorded his first goal for the club.
Mark Hughes sent out his best 11 at Selhurst Park, a bold move which certainly made the statement that City are ‘in it to win it’.
Neil Warnock’s young side started brightly, seemingly unfazed by coming face to face with one of the most expensive strike forces in the world. Palace certainly kept City fans on the edge of their seats at times, and Shay Given busy between the sticks.
City had the first shot of the game, but from then on it was Palace who looked more likely to take their chances, their young strikers shooting at every opportunity.
Clint Hill, Victor Moses and Freddie Sears all had decent chances denied by the unpenetrable Given in the opening half-hour.
Mark Hughes’ side were dominating possession despite Palace’s goal threat and Julian Speroni was soon called into action at the other end of the pitch to keep his side in the game.
Emmanuel Adebayor’s powerful shot was tipped over by the Palace keeper before he made a fantastic block to deny Tevez, the Argentine having run clear of Palace’s back-line to go one-on-one with Speroni.
Palace had a late chance snapped up by Given and both sides finished the half with their keepers to thank.
City will have felt hard done by as the linesman made three terrible offside decisions against them, one of which denied Robinho a goal.
Half-time: Crystal Palace 0 Manchester City 0
The second-half saw a much more direct City side as they looked to force the issue of getting a goal. Slick interplay by their multi-million pound strike force ripped Palace to shreds at times.
Just five minutes after the restart, Shaun Wright-Phillips hit an unstoppable shot past the Palace keeper in a wonderful move which gave the world a glimpse of City’s true attacking potential if the right components click.
Manchester City’s vocal support were relentless as the away fans filled the stadium with renditions of Blue Moon.
Moments later, the fans almost had cause to sing louder as Adebayor had a fantastic opportunity saved by Palace’s ever impressive keeper.
City were in full swing and Wright-Phillips nearly doubled his sides lead, chipping Robinho’s clever ball over the keeper only to be denied by frame of the goal.
Palace, who struggling against the visitors’ devastating attacks, almost managed to get their break-through goal but Ambrose misjudged the ball and City cleared.
Tevez put Palace out of the last of Palace’s hopes in the 71st minute, his first goal for City coming about after the diminutive Argentine surprisingly won a free header three yards out from goal.
The £25m striker simply guided the ball into the back of the net, his effort greeted by the adulation of City’s supporters and the call for old bacon-face Fergie to ‘sign him up’.
Mark Hughes’ side relaxed after the goal and were content to invite Palace forward, waiting for an opportunity to break. Credit to Neil Warnock’s side who gave it their best to break down the solid pairing of Toure and the impressive debutant Joleon Lescott, but there was no answer from the home side.
The referee waved away a late shout for a penalty after Wayne Bridge’s apparent handball and Micah Richards’ pulling down of Danns in the box went unnoticed in the closing stages, perhaps evening things out after the linesman’s poor decisions against City earlier in the game.
All in all, it was a game which was there to win and City went out and completed the job. Hughes will be delighted with new signing Lescott and will be extremely happy with the continuing run of clean-sheets.
Full-time: Crystal Palace 0 Manchester City 2
Goals: Shaun Wright-Phillips 50′ Carlos Tevez 71′ (Manchester City)
Crystal Palace: Speroni, McCarthy, Clyne, Fonte, Hill, Ambrose, N’Diaye, Derry, Moses, Danns, Sears
Subs: Flahavan, Butterfield, Lawrence, Carle, Smith, Lee, Scannell
Manchester City: Given, Bridge, Lescott, Richards, Toure, Barry, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Tevez, Adebayor, Robinho
Subs: Taylor, Zabaleta, Onuoha, Weiss, de Jong, Petrov, Bellamy