We perhaps knew that Manchester City weren't going to retain the Premier League before this game, but after watching them fall 2-1 to a spirited Palace side, one wonders if they'll finish above Arsenal or rivals United.
City, who dominated the first half of this thoroughly entertaining affair, were left embittered as Glenn Murray and Jason Puncheon strikes were enough to secure all three points for Pardew's Selhurst soldiers. Toure scored for City, but it was ultimately not enough to stop yet another setback in an increasingly disappointing campaign.
With Manuel Pellegrini still settling into his seat, former United man Wilfried Zaha should have fired the home side into an early lead after a high-tempo start. With a mere 60 seconds on the clock, Martin Kelly advanced from left-back and fizzed a brilliantly imaginative cross to the back post. Zaha, making the late dash, met it with pace, but ballooned his effort into the stands.
City were not fazed by the frenetic start, though and fashioned themselves a great chance to open the scoring. Joe Hart launched a tremendous kick to the other end of the pitch with Sergio Aguero chasing. The Argentine striker got to the ball before the advancing Julian Speroni and cut it back to David Silva. After a characteristically deft touch to shift the ball back onto his left, the Spaniard unleashed his effort, but it only ricocheted back off Speroni, who was scurrying frantically back to atone for his error.
The warning signs were there for Palace though as City continued to turn the screw. Space became readily available for Silva and Aguero, particularly when the Spaniard laid it off to City's top-scorer, who swivelled and struck the post with his right-footed shot from just outside the area. Apart from the aerial prowess of Glenn Murray up front, Palace's momentum went cold as the first-half wore on. City dominated possession, with neat passages of intricate passing without really any threat of a counter-attack by the hosts.
Silva, who popped up in pockets of space with alarming frequency, forced a strong one-handed save from Speroni with a deflected drive on the 30-minute mark after another sustained spell of City pressure. Palace kept their shape admirably, but it was a precarious pattern the game was taking. Pardew's men simply couldn't get out of their own half as the away side continued their quest for the breakthrough.
But perhaps the greatest feature of this Palace side under Pardew is their dogged perseverance. After riding the storm from City, Palace won a corner from a free-kick. After a poor set-piece from Jason Puncheon, the ball was flicked back into the box by Joe Ledley, reaching Scott Dann. The centre-half's shot was well saved by Hart, but in came Murray, following up as every good striker should, to tap home the loose ball for his fifth goal in as many games. City were incensed that Dann was not adjudged offside, but the goal stood.
Palace started the second half with a bang. Murray dragged the ball into his path on the half-turn and evaded Yaya Toure and Silva before being scythed down by Fernandinho. The vociferous fans packed inside Selhurst Park roared with appreciation at Murray's industry. The roars were increased when Jason Puncheon curled in the resultant free-kick perfectly, propelling Palace into dreamland. Pardew punched the air with delight. Pellegrini, in stark contrast, grimaced as he slumped in his seat.
VINE | El GOLAZO de Puncheon para el Crystal Palace 2-0 Man City http://t.co/CTgdacyFm8— JoseluSevilla19 (@JoseluSevilla19) April 6, 2015
Puncheon breathed a sigh of relief, however, after his handball gifted City an opportunity to get back into the game with a dangerously positioned free-kick. Toure stepped up and struck it excellently and although the Palace fans behind the net cheered ironically, it was merely inches from bursting the top corner. Speroni was helpless, rooted to the spot and equally relieved to see it fly over his woodwork.
City huffed and puffed as Palace were prepared to sit back and protect their lead. Fernandinho came closest for the champions, skipping past Ward and firing it goalwards, beating Speroni but only meeting James McArthur, who somehow managed to turn it away successfully from virtually directly underneath the crossbar.
At that point it looked like one of those nights for City but Toure wasn't prepared to lie down. The Ivorian, tortured all night, suddenly sprung into life and unleashed an unstoppable drive from the edge of the area, that zoomed into the bottom corner and silenced the Palace fans momentarily. Suddenly, the complexion had changed dramatically. It was set for a nerve-shredding conclusion.
Palace were besieged for the final few minutes as City ensured the fans were given a nail-biting finale. Another Toure shot looped ominously towards the goal but Speroni was on hand to flap it away. Moments later, Toure again was allowed the time to shoot, only this time he blazed a wild effort over.
Man of the Match: Glenn Murray