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.