Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Manchester City midfielders Fernandinho and Rodri after they kept a clean sheet in defence during the 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.
Sitting eight points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool heading into the game, it was crucial that City picked up all three points from a tricky looking away day against in-form Palace, and they had to do with more defensive issues.
With John Stones recently back from injury and only able to take a place on the bench and Nicolas Otamendi absent after suffering a knock while on international duty with Argentina, City were left short of options at centre-back.
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That meant it was left to Rodri to drop back alongside fellow midfielder Fernandinho into the heart of City’s defence at Selhurst Park, where first-half goals from Gabriel Jesus and David Silva saw them wrap up a 2-0 win to move to within five points of leaders Liverpool, albeit having played a game more.
Liverpool now travel to Manchester United on Sunday, and City will be hoping for a favour from their arch rivals. “We had a lot of chances, unfortunately, we cannot convert more, but it’s OK, we have next time,” Guardiola said.
“Nico had a big kick in the international with Argentina and in training yesterday I decided and thought about it. “It’s a long season and we are going to use alternatives. John is now back, but he didn’t play for a long time.
“I thank them (Fernandinho and Rodri) both so much because it is not easy to play different positions with strikers like Crystal Palace have in Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew and Christian Benteke. They did really well.”
Jesus started up front for City with Sergio Aguero, who is joint top of the Premier League scoring charts, an unused substitute at Selhurst Park.
The 22-year-old Brazil international broke the deadlock in the 39th minute with his 50th goal for City, and it proved an invaluable contribution as Guardiola’s men bounced back from their shock 2-0 home loss to Wolves two weeks ago.Copyright © 2023 Completesports.com All rights reserved. The information contained in Completesports.com may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of Completesports.com.