City, United eke out wins in Premier League
By Steve Douglas ,AP
December 30, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester City rode its luck in beating Crystal Palace 1-0 to move provisionally top of the English Premier League, while Manchester United won by the same score at Norwich to stay in the title picture on Saturday.
The Manchester giants dipped into their reserves for a second game in three days and produced disjointed displays that were rescued by second-half winners.
Edin Dzeko's 66th-minute goal maintained City's record of scoring in every home game in more than three years — a run of 60 matches — and lifted the team two points above Arsenal, which plays Newcastle on Sunday.
Danny Welbeck came off the bench to score a fortuitous winning goal for United in the 57th minute at Carrow Road, earning the champions — missing injured striker Wayne Rooney — a fourth straight league win.
Hull thrashed third-to-bottom Fulham 6-0 and last-place Sunderland scored twice in the final seven minutes to draw 2-2 at Cardiff, which fired manager Malky Mackay on Friday.
West Ham will also be in the bottom three going into 2014 after twice squandering a lead in a 3-3 draw with West Bromwich Albion, and Aston Villa drew 1-1 with Swansea.
City's 10th league win from 10 matches at Etihad Stadium in this campaign was far from straightforward, with Manuel Pellegrini's decision to make six changes from the 2-1 victory over Liverpool on Thursday disrupting City's attacking rhythm.
Most pundits' title favorites relied on Dzeko's finish from Jesus Navas' cut-back to eke out three points against a Palace side that has tightened up since the appointment of defensive-minded Tony Pulis as manager in November.
“It was a hard game, maybe the toughest at this stadium in the Premier League this season,” said Dzeko, who scored his 50th City goal. “It was the last game of 2013 and we wanted to finish with a win.”
City goalkeeper Joe Hart played with a gash under his left eye after a collision with Palace striker Cameron Jerome in the first half, but that didn't stop him producing some fine saves after the break to preserve City's perfect home record.