Pep Guardiola was left lamenting defensive mistakes as Manchester City’s first home defeat of the season allowed Liverpool to retain their four-point advantage going into Christmas, with the penalty Kyle Walker gave away to allow Crystal Palace what turned out to be the winning goal of particular concern to the City manager.
“We cannot concede the penalty we conceded, we have to try and avoid it,” Guardiola said of his defender’s rash challenge on Max Meyer. “We had just made some changes and decided to play with two strikers to try to get back in the game, then straight away we give away a penalty and a third goal.”
The 3-2 loss leaves the Champions four points behind leaders Liverpool who are yet to lose a match in the league this season. City’s form at Etihad Stadium this season – they had scored an average of three goals a game in nine successive league victories – had made it a fortress, but its walls came crumbling down in spectacular fashion.
The game appeared to be following a familiar script when Ilkay Gundogan ghosted into the box to head City into the lead from Fabian Delph’s cross, but the events of the next eight minutes left the home fans in stunned silence.
First, Jeffrey Schlupp equalised with a fizzing angled drive into the bottom corner after meeting James McArthur’s pass on the edge of the area. Then Townsend gave the visitors the lead with a contender for goal of the season, a fabulous volley after Bernardo Silva half-cleared a free-kick.