Crystal Palace 1 Manchester City 2

Last updated : 18 September 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Kevin Keegan's life at Manchester City got a little more comfortable thanks to Nicolas Anelka's second-half double against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

The under-fire former England manager has taken some stick recently and if rumours are to be believed his future at City is in doubt.

But Anelka gave his boss a stay of execution, first with a delightful strike ten minutes after the break and then from a penalty ten minutes later to leave Palace firmly rooted at the bottom and still seeking their first win.

Palace started brightly enough, holding possession well and having most of the play.

In fact City were forced to concede six free-kicks in their own half in the first 15 minutes and shortly after Palace carved out their first opening with Eagles wideman Wayne Routledge crossing low into the goalmouth.

It needed only a touch from Sandor Torghelle but the Hungarian international got his feet tangled up and completely missed the ball from two yards out and fortunately for City the ball flew away to safety.

After surviving that scare, City smartened up their act and began exposing the frailties of the Palace defence.

The Eagles had a big let-off when Anelka raced into the penalty area and pulled the ball back for Antoine Sibierski whose low and hard shot was on target. However, it rebounded off team-mate Jonathan Macken who was practically on the goal-line.

Shaun Wright-Phillips then crossed into the goalmouth, but none of his team-mates could arrive on time to get on the end of it.

Macken then fired over the top from a good position and Claudio Reyna had a 20-yard shot saved by Julian Speroni as City started to launch attack after attack.

The unlucky Macken once again got in the way when Anelka had a stab at goal.

Macken was not having the best of times as he fired into the side-netting shortly after the break.

But City didn't have to wait long before going in front. Anelka's corner from the left caused all sorts of problems in the Palace area and although Mark Hudson managed to half-clear his lines, Sibierski returned the ball straight to Anelka who was situated just inside the area.

He brilliantly turned the Palace defence and found space for himself before releasing a low left-foot shot past Speroni's outstretched hand in the 55th minute.

Ten minutes later City got the benefit of a dubious penalty. Wright-Phillips outpaced Danny Granville who was forced to lean on the flying City winger who went down in the area.

The referee's assistant signalled a penalty with new Premiership referee Mark Atkinson some distance away.

Anelka took the spot-kick and fired home a perfectly executed right-footed shot into the top left corner.

Palace's Andrew Johnson was well marked by Richard Dunne while Torghelle was ineffective.

Substitute Italian forward Nicola Ventola won a penalty for the Eagles after a clumsy run.

He eventually forced City defender Ben Thatcher in to a challenge and when Ventola tumbled in the area, the other referee assistant signalled a penalty.

But Johnson, who missed a penalty last week against Portsmouth, this time made no mistake beating David James with a well-struck right-foot shot into the right corner of the net.

City were now suddenly struggling as Palace's hopes of a revival were raised.

Palace manager Iain Dowie used no fewer than six forwards in the final ten minutes and Ventola perhaps should have done better as he placed his header wide from in front of goal.

But Keegan's side held out as City provided their troubled manager with the result he desperately wanted.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Nicolas Anelka (Man City) - A classy performance from the Frenchman who led the line stylishly and produced a perfect finish to ease the pressure early in the second half.