Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City saw their title defence dented severely in a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday night.
City began the evening in fourth place, needing a win to remain in good contention for the title but goals either side of half-time from Glenn Murray and Jason Puncheon condemned the visitors.
Wilfred Zaha had a chance to give Palace an opening minute lead when a Martin Kelly ball in evaded teammate Glenn Murray before reaching him, only for the former Man. United youngster to scoop his effort over from close range.
City got the next chance to break the deadlock when a long punt from Joe Hart found Sergio Agüero, with the Argentine international going past Palace goalkeeper Speroni before cutting a pass back to the path of David Silva having gone too far wide to attempt scoring himself.
Alas for Silva, Agüero and City, Silva’s chipped effort towards goal bounced off a retreating Julian Speroni’s shoulder and over the bar in the 10th minute.
10 minutes later and City came even closer to scoring, Silva finding Agüero who etched some space out for himself before smashing a low shot off the Palace post.
At this point, City had gained control of proceedings so it was much against the run of play and in controversial manner that Palace took the lead after 34 minutes.
Alan Pardew’s side had seen a second successive corner kick cleared, though only as far as the edge of the area from where Scott Dann was found in the area.
The centre back’s effort on goal was kept out by Hart’s legs, with the loose ball falling to Murray who tapped home for his fifth in as many matches and sparked angst from the City players – who felt Dann and Murray were offside – towards referee Michael Oliver.
Palace then doubled their advantage just two minutes into the second half through a well struck free-kick by Puncheon after Fernandinho had brought Murray down.
Going two down woke City, with Yaya Toure firing a free-kick just over in the 57th while the referee waved away strong shouts for a penalty from City players after the ball hit Murray’s hand with 20 minutes to go.
City finally got the goal their dominance deserved with 10 minutes to go, courtesy of Toure with a powerfully struck curling effort from the edge of the Palace area.
Palace held off a late surge on goal from City, blocking efforts from Nasri and Toure to record a crucial win, which further helps their cause to stay up.
For City however, the result mean they now lie in fourth place with 61 points, nine points behind league leaders Chelsea – that have a game in hand – and a point behind third place Man. United whom they visit in the Manchester derby on Sunday.