Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lamented the poor defending that allowed Crystal Palace to escape with 2-2 draw after a thrilling finish in the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
The hosts were behind for the majority of the contest after Cenk Tosun’s 39th-minute opener but Sergio Aguero punctuated the frustration with his 250th goal in City colors eight minutes from time.
Aguero duly headed home Benjamin Mendy’s cross to put Guardiola’s men ahead but there was a sting in the tail and Wilfried Zaha tore past the shy attempts of John Stones and compelled Fernandinho to put through his own goal.
“We need to avoid the error we’ve made about the second goal,” Guardiola told a post-match news conference.
“Just don’t allow Zaha to operate, it is that simple. And we allowed it.
“No [it was not a reduction of concentration], it was a choice. The concentration was always there. We are going to fix it and improve it.
“In these places, we need to have the back four there rather than let them run with this counter-attack.”
Late drama in abundance!
Although he didn’t name the England international especially, this felt as a damning indictment of Stones’ efforts in what has been a challenging effort for a center-back often short of form and exercise.
At the end of his forlorn pursuit of Zaha, Stones appeared to jar a knee but Guardiola could not offer you a fitness update.
“I didn’t find the doctors. Now we will see,” he said.
Champions City is 13 points behind leaders Liverpool having played two games more and Guardiola gave a tired response to a question whether the title race was alive — indicating he might be better served preparing for his team’s Tuesday assignment at Sheffield United instead of seeing Manchester United’s trip to Anfield on Sunday.
“I answered the question countless times in the last few weeks,” he added.
“Maybe I will watch it, maybe I’ll see Sheffield United. I really don’t understand.”
PEP We attempted to do everything. The soul was there. We arrived back and we dropped points. Nonetheless, it’s soccer.
City thought they had a penalty in 1-0 down, only for referee Graham Scott to overturn his decision following a VAR review of the incident when Jairo Riedewald deflected Raheem Sterling’s cross to his arm.
Guardiola said of the incident. “I don’t know the rule of the hands, frankly. It looks like hands, but…”