MANCHESTER City manager Manuel Pellegrini was delighted his team held their nerve yesterday to ensure the Premier League pendulum swung back in their favour.
Following Chelsea’s 2-0 victory at Liverpool earlier in the day, buoyant City triumphed with first-half goals from Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure and could now win the title on goal difference should the top three win all of their remaining games.
Pellegrini said: “I talked with the players before the game and said not to think about the result of Chelsea and Liverpool. We just had to concentrate on what we needed to do, to win the game, and we did it in a very professional way.
“Maybe there was a lot of anxiety after Chelsea won the game. It could be difficult for us to manage the game, but we did it very well.
“We have to play the last three games and win them. But if we win it is very important not to have to depend on other teams. The good thing is the destiny is in our hands at the moment.”
With an extra spring in their step it took just four minutes for City to open the scoring. Dzeko ended a run of three games without a goal, rising highest in the penalty area to head in Toure’s deep cross.
Shortly before half-time the visitors lead was doubled by Toure, the Ivorian piercing the Palace defence with a superb showing of power and pace.
Toure picked the ball up inside his own half, exchanged passes with Dzeko, then Samir Nasri, bulldozed his way past Damien Delaney and fired into the top corner.
The execution of the goal impressed even sections of the home faithful, who applauded generously in appreciation when Toure was substituted midway through an uneventful second half that slowly deteriorated in tandem with the south London weather.
Winger Jason Puncheon had Palace’s best effort shortly after half-time, with a low curling shot that England goalkeeper Joe Hart pushed around the post.
Sergio Aguero and Dzeko were denied late of by Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni, while substitute Fernandinho miscued an intended pass onto the top of the crossbar.
Palace boss Tony Pulis said: “You have to realise playing against some teams it’s not a level-playing field. You want them to be under pressure to make them a little bit nervous and give us a chance, but that didn’t happen, it fell into place for them.”