By Sedara Philip
Manchester City maintained the pressure on leaders Arsenal as the Premier League champions reduced the gap at the top to two points with a hard-fought victory over struggling Crystal Palace.
Pep Guardiola’s side had to remain patient at Selhurst Park, but were eventually able to take their opportunity to edge closer to the Gunners, who visit London rivals Fulham on Sunday (14:00 GMT).
Erling Haaland settled the match from the penalty spot for his 28th goal of the campaign, stroking his 78th-minute spot-kick into the bottom corner after Michael Olise’s late challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.
The visitors had been unable to capitalise on a purposeful start, which saw Rodri’s first-time effort force Vicente Guaita into action and Jack Grealish pull a low shot wide after he had darted into the penalty area.
Haaland, who scored his first Premier League hat-trick in the reverse fixture in August, went closest in the first half, but the league’s top scorer remarkably failed to hit the target following Nathan Ake’s pass into the six-yard box.
A shot-shy Palace pushed for a late equaliser against a retreating City, but it was to no avail as the hosts went a Premier League record third successive league game without managing a shot on target.
The defeat extends Palace’s concerning league winless run to 10 matches – the longest in the division – and leaves Patrick Vieira’s side just four points above the relegation places.
For City, the victory is a positive note to begin another crucial week – with the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against RB Leipzig next before an FA Cup quarter-final against Burnley.