Manuel Pellegrini accused Crystal Palace of trying not to play football and attempting to “stay in their own goal” during the 1-0 win that took Manchester City top of the Premier League.
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Edin Dzeko scored the only goal for a previously prolific City side, but manager Pellegrini was left frustrated about what he deemed ultra-defensive tactics from his Palace counterpart Tony Pulis.
City had 77 percent of possession and 23 attempts on goal as the Eagles became the first team to limit Pellegrini’s men to one goal at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League this season.
And the Chilean, who was unhappy City had to play just 44 hours after the final whistle in Thursday’s win over Liverpool, said: “Just one team wanted to play and the other wanted to stay in their own goal. Our team was not fresh enough to make all the movements you have to do when you have 10 players inside their own box.”
But Pulis, referring to a series of saves the City goalkeeper made, said: “Did they give Joe Hart man of the match? There you go.”
The Palace manager also highlighted the disparity in resources between the two clubs, adding: “Was that the [City] team that cost 350 million pounds? I thought our lads were brilliant today and I don’t talk about other teams.”
Hart finished the game with a black eye after being left bloodied by a collision with Palace striker Cameron Jerome in the first half.
Pellegrini, who said there was no chance the goalkeeper needed to come off at half-time, allayed fears that the England international was badly hurt, adding: “The doctors said he doesn’t have a serious problem. There isn’t a problem with his sight.”
City, however, later confirmed that Hart received five stitches following the injury, despite Pellegrini believing he had none.
Jerome was also injured in the clash, suffering an ankle problem which Palace will assess in the next few days.
Pellegrini was pleased with the way his side have responded in recent weeks to move top of the league.
He said: “Eight games ago, nobody believed we could [make up] six points to Arsenal. We did it. We won the last seven games and we drew one. We must continue this way.”