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Iheanacho scores to become instant hero at Manchester City

By The Rainbow
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He wheeled away, pointing to the heavens in disbelief. His manager may have said a prayer of his own as City extended their lead at the Premier League summit and maintained their perfect start.

Before Iheanacho's heroics, this clash would have been remembered for yet another ugly touchline spat between Pellegrini and Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew.

But that would be unfair on Iheanacho; this was his moment. Pellegrini has been criticised for failing to replace the departed Edin Dzeko with another support striker, but the Chilean insists there is method in his perceived madness.

'He's [Iheanacho] one of the reasons I didn't bring another striker in when we sold Edin Dzeko,' said Pellegrini. 'He's an important player for us and will be a very important player for the future. He deserves that chance. It was important he took that chance.'

City were boosted ahead of kick-off knowing victory would open up an 11 point gap over champions Chelsea following their loss at Everton. 'It's important to have a good start, to have 15 from five games,' added Pellegrini. 'We're not just playing against Chelsea though.'

It wasn't all good news, as Sergio Aguero suffered a knee injury after a late tackle by Scott Dann to make him a doubt for Tuesday's Champions League opener against Juventus. However, he later said on Twitter: 'I got a hard hit but it doesn't seem to be serious.'

Pellegrini is hopeful Raheem Sterling and David Silva, who missed the trip to Selhurst Park, with respective hamstring and ankle injuries, will be fit to feature against the Italians. Despite their absence, Pellegrini resisted the temptation to hand Kevin De Bruyne an instant debut, the £54million man starting on the bench.

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Jesus Navas (centre) took the ball around Alex McCarthy of Palace but could not hit the back of the net with the goal gaping

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Navas looks on in horror after ending a brilliant weaving run by shooting wide of an open goal from inside the penalty area

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A dejected Navas contemplates the consequence of his humiliating miss as City struggled to get a goal against Palace

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Samir Nasri reacts after also missing a chance to score for City as Palace’s stubborn defence held strong under pressure

EA SPORTS DISTANCE STATS
MINS KM MILES
Crystal Palace  114.1 70.9
James McArthur 90 11.9 7.4
Wilfried Zaha 90 11.5 7.2
Yohan Cabaye 90 11.4 7.1
Manchester City  109.3 67.9
Jesus Navas 90 11.6 7.2
Samir Nasri 89 10.7 6.7
Yaya Toure 90 10.4 6.5
Data courtesy of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, the Official Player Rating Index of the Barclays Premier League

Home keeper Alex McCarthy denied Samir Nasri, who was set up by Yaya Toure's inch-perfect lofted free-kick, with a brave save inside six minutes.

But Palace had come flying out of the blocks. Yannick Bolasie missed two early opportunities, before Pape Souare's swinging volley flew narrowly wide in the 11th minute. There was gusto in Palace's early play, illustrating why Pardew's side has earned rave reviews so far this season. However, Dann overstepped the mark in the 17th minute and the defender was lucky to stay on the field after fouling Aguero.

The Argentine struggled on until being substituted in the 25th minute, when he was promptly fitted with an ice pack on his right knee.

Pellegrini had other worries, too, namely, how to spark City out of their early malaise. His mood certainly wasn't helped by De Bruyne's ambling approach to coming on, Pellegrini berating the Belgian for taking what seemed like an eternity to get himself ready.

Pardew was then livid with Yaya Toure's rash challenge on James McArthur and proceeded to stomp into Pellegrini's technical area to make his point. Already at boiling point, Pellegrini grabbed his rival before the pair were separated by fourth official Roger East.

The flashpoint evoked memories of a similar incident between the two at St James' Park in 2014, when Pardew was Newcastle boss.

Eventually they shook hands here, but it was a token gesture.

It seemed to cajole City into action, though, as De Bruyne showed glimpses of why City had paid such a princely sum to lure him from Germany, supplying Wilfried Bony and Nasri with opportunities.

Barring an early, deflected Bolasie strike that arrowed narrowly past Joe Hart's post, City were relatively untroubled.

De Bruyne's brilliant first-time through ball set Jesus Navas clear in the 51st minute. But having rounded McCarthy, the Spaniard somehow managed to miss the target with the goal gaping.

Jason Puncheon saw his bullet header from Souare's cross saved in the 70th minute before substitute Dwight Gayle missed the target from close range for Palace.But, as the clash entered injury-time, Iheanacho made himself an instant hero, steering in Nasri's low shot that was initially saved by McCarthy. The stuff of dreams.

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Sergio Aguero (left) of Manchester City went off injured after a challenge by Crystal Palace defender Scott Dann in the 25th minute

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Aguero’s injury increases City’s woes, as they began the game without attacking midfielders David Silva and Raheem Sterling

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The Argentina striker Aguero was replaced by Kevin De Bruyne, as the Belgium attacker made his City debut at Selhurst Park

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3231996/Crystal-Palace-0-1-Manchester-City-Kelechi-Iheanacho-strikes-stoppage-time-Manuel-Pellegrini-s-continue-perfect-start-injury-problems-mount-Sergio-Aguero-going-off.html#ixzz3ldUWSSgz

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