Wilmslow Express - - CITY LIFE LOCAL -

op­por­tu­ni­ties kept com­ing – and go­ing.

One slick, swift move ended with Ser­gio Aguero typ­i­cally nudg­ing the ball to his right to fash­ion a yard of space, and then fir­ing across Sper­oni and against the far post.

Next, it was Silva, ma­raud­ing on the edge of the box and find­ing a gap him­self – but his shot took a heavy de­flec­tion, and the Palace keeper kept it out by hurl­ing him­self to his right.

Aguero then popped up in the in­side left chan­nel, chas­ing a bounc­ing ball – he hooked it with the out­side of his right foot, and the ball sailed over the bar.

For most strik­ers, it was sim­ply a dif­fi­cult chance, but Aguero at the top of his game would have ex­pected to score.

But this was a pat­tern we have seen be­fore this sea­son. City huff and puff, make chances and miss them, and start to run out of be­lief and in­ven­tion. The next stage, al­most in­evitable, is that the op­po­si­tion then has a rare attack, and scores.

The fact that Palace had the ben­e­fit of two poor de­ci­sions is nei­ther here nor there. City are – or should be – good enough to ride such things and come through them.

In­stead, they looked rat­tled by the goal, and when Martin Demiche­lis volleyed over af­ter Dzeko flicked on at the near post, the writ­ing was on the wall. There were some un­happy faces in the City team at half-time, most of the scowls di­rected at ref Mike Oliver and his as­sis­tants – but there needed to be a grim de­ter­mi­na­tion to set things right in the sec­ond half.

A quick goal would have changed the whole com­plex­ion – un­for­tu­nately it went to Palace, and this time the ques­tions were be­ing asked of the de­fen- sive wall rather than the of­fi­cials.

The malaise seemed to have spread to Fer­nand­inho as he clat­tered into Mur­ray 25 yards out to present Palace with a free­kick.

Ja­son Pun­cheon lined up a shot, but Yaya Toure ap­peared to duck away from it and the ball curved over him and into the un­guarded side of the net.

City’s luck con­tin­ued to desert them in the sec­ond half as they were de­nied a bla­tant penalty as they tried to force the pace.

Fer­nand­inho got into the box and fired in a shot which de­flected into the air and hit Mur­ray’s out­stretched hand.

It ap­peared that ev­ery­one in the sta­dium saw it apart from the two who mat­tered – the lines­man, per­fectly placed, and ref Oliver.

City gave them­selves a life­line with 12 min­utes left when Samir Nasri re­placed Navas.

His first in­volve­ment was to skip down the right and de­liver a de­cent cross that was half-cleared by Dann to the feet of Toure.

He took the ball in his stride and thumped a left­footed shot be­yond Sper­oni and into the far cor­ner.

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