Manchester City’s 18-game Premier League winning run was ended by a goalless draw at Crystal Palace, who missed out on the chance to become the first team to beat them in the league this season when they had an injury-time penalty saved.
It was a disappointing display from Pep Guardiola’s side, but they still extended their lead at the top of the table to 14 points – the biggest gap between the leaders and the chasing pack at this stage of the season in top-flight history.
It could have been worse for City had goalkeeper Ederson not saved Luka Milivojevic’s spot-kick after substitute Raheem Sterling had fouled Wilfried Zaha in the box in the 92nd minute.
However it could still prove a costly afternoon for City with Gabriel Jesus leaving the field injured and in tears in the first half, and the league’s top assist-maker Kevin de Bruyne stretchered off after a heavy tackle from Jason Puncheon in the final minute.
It leaves City with only one fit senior striker in Sergio Aguero who replaced Jesus at Selhurst Park.
While Chelsea and Manchester United trail City by some distance, they may see a small light at the end of the tunnel in a title race that appeared to be all but over before the turn of the year.
Palace energy gets deserved point
Palace were rewarded after their defensive grit and off-the-ball energy shone through in an enthralling contest.
The question, after they pressed so ferociously in the first half, was whether they were fit enough in the midst of the congested Christmas fixture-list to keep it up.
But the hosts did just that, with midfielder Luka Milivojevic covering more ground than anyone on the pitch (12.69 km), even if his late spot-kick was struck too close to City goalkeeper Ederson.
The point means the Eagles start the new year outside of the bottom three, a point above West Ham in 18th – symbolic for a club that suffered seven straight defeats without scoring during their miserable start to the season.
They also secured only their second home clean sheet in the league all season against a team which have scored 101 goals in 2017.
The downside to playing their energetic part in such an enthralling contest was the first-half injury to centre-back Scott Dann, with Hodgson already light on defenders in Mamadou Sakho’s injury absence because of a calf problem.
But they can take heart from creating other opportunities to win aside from the penalty; with full-back Patrick van Aanholt testing Ederson in the first half and Andros Townsend wasting a gilt-edged chance to convert on 78 minutes.
With Yohan Cabaye, who drew applause for closing down City defender Nicolas Otamendi in the first half, playing further forward than he did in their previous defeat by Arsenal, Palace had a courage with the ball to match their resilience off it.
More to follow.