Manchester City needed a second-half penalty from the striker Erling Haaland to break the resistance of a stubborn Crystal Palace side and secure a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park in the Premier League on Saturday.
The win lifted City to 61 points after 27 games, two behind leaders Arsenal, who play Fulham on Sunday, and 12 ahead of third-placed Manchester United.
– Broadcast on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (USA)
The visitors got off to a fast start, with the midfielder Rodri cutting back a powerful volley in the third minute straight at the goalkeeper vincent guita and Jack Grealish taking a shot just wide, but with the home side packing up their defence, City had a hard time breaking them down.
In a sign of frustration, Haaland fired a shot from a very tight angle just before the half-hour mark and then lobbed the rebound wide as his team dominated possession.
City were presented with an excellent opportunity early in the second half when Jack Grealish was fouled on the edge of the area, but Guaita made a terrific dive save to keep out Phil Fodenfree kick of .
City moved even closer to the hour mark when substitute Julián Álvarez spun magnificently on the edge of the box as he received the ball from Bernardo Silvabut his shot went over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
With Palace occasionally skewering six defenders in the back and using their forwards to clog up the middle, Haaland was repeatedly shoved aside and City had to constantly recycle the ball as they searched for space to play.
City’s breakthrough finally came when captain Ilkay Gundogan was dumped in the box after a clumsy late challenge from miguel olise.
Undeterred by his long periods without the ball, Haaland stepped up and finished the shot from the low point to the keeper’s left in the 78th minute for his 28th league goal of the season and 34th in all the competitions.
With Palace failing to register a shot on target for the third successive Premier League game, City held on to win comfortably.