Is there anything sweeter than a last minute winner?
It turns out there is: a last minute winner from an 18-year old scoring his first Premier League goal.
It’s difficult to imagine a more memorable and satisfying way to keep up our record-breaking winning streak and our perfect start to the season than this 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
Here are five things we learned from our latest triumph…
Winning in adversity…
City went into their fifth game of the season without the services of six first-teamers, including the man who has arguably been our top performer in the opening weeks of the season, David Silva.
Raheem Sterling was a late addition to the list of those unavailable and when Sergio Aguero was forced off midway through the first-half, it was feeling like one of those days where fate was against us.
However, City stuck to their task at Selhurst Park and, even when it looked for all the world as if we were about to drop our first two points of the season, continued to gamble for the win, with the easy options being ignored.
Samir Nasri was testament to this attitude of perseverance in the 90th minute, opting to dribble through a sea of Palace defenders instead of making a simple pass sideways, before taking on a shot through the eye of the needle which led to Kelechi Iheanacho’s tap-in.
Without seven key players, City had found a way to win in adverse circumstances leaving us to ponder just how valuable a win like this may be at season’s end?
The facts speak for themselves: City are already seven points up on their tally from equivalent fixtures in 2014/15, five points clear at the top and 11 points ahead of the champions.
Kelechi justifies his manager’s faith…
“I just told him to go on and score!” laughed Manuel Pellegrini after his inspired 89th minute substitution.
Kelechi needed no second invitation, reacting quickest to Nasri’s spilled effort to score his priceless first Premier League goal to maintain our perfect start.
He's certainly scored better goals (see below) but none so crucial.
It was a dream cameo from an 18-year old who seems completely undaunted by the step up to senior football after shining at youth level in the final weeks of last season.
His performances in pre-season in Australia and Vietnam gave a tantalising glimpse of his potential and he’s now starting to show what he can do on the biggest stage of all.
Pellegrini revealed after the game that his decision to let Edin Dzeko leave and to not go into the market for another striker was based on Kelechi’s ability and the Nigerian has gone some way already to justifying his manager's call.
De Bruyne shines on his debut…
Claiming our CityMatchday App users’ Man of the Match by a landslide, Kevin De Bruyne showed no signs that he’ll need time to settle in at City on his first appearance.
The Belgian made more key passes than anyone else on the field with five, despite the fact that he was only introduced midway through the first-half.
Dubbed “the Assist King” following his record breaking Bundesliga season, Kevin showed exactly why he was brought to the club in his 70 minutes on the field, laying on chance after chance for his teammates.
Most impressively, he managed to play his normal game almost in spite of the match which was playing out around him.
It was in every sense a typical Premier League game with a fast and furious, tough-tackling nature but De Bruyne always had his head up, used the ball intelligently and showed his eye for the killer, defence-splitting pass.
99 times out of 100, he would have had an assist to mark his debut when he played Jesus Navas through on goal with a majestic centre from the left flank.
It was the type of ball anyone who’s watched his YouTube Wolfsburg compilation videos has seen him play many times before and so it was encouraging to see his talents translate seamlessly from the Bundesliga to the Premier League.
Aguero’s fitness race for Juventus…
The only sour point on an otherwise pleasing day for City was the injury sustained to Aguero’s knee after 21 minutes.
Scott Dann’s challenge angered Pellegrini who believed that the Eagles defender’s intent was sufficient for a straight red card.
“Sometimes you must show the red card immediately because you know the intention of the player,” the City boss said after the game.
As for Aguero’s injury, the striker allayed fans’ fears on Twitter, posting: “Thanks everyone for your concern. I got a hard hit and it prevented me from playing more. It doesn't seem to be a serious injury though.”
We should know more when Manuel faces the media for his UEFA Champions League press conference on Monday afternoon at 12.45pm.
City set a club record for consecutive league clean sheets with the shutout at Selhurst Park yesterday.
It’s now been six games (566 minutes - 9.4 hours) since Joe Hart’s goal was breached, with one game, the Southampton win on the final day, carried over from last season.
We also equalled a 108-year old club record for consecutive wins away from home with our fifth-successive victory away from the Etihad which was set between March and September 1907.
There are more records in sight if City can keep up their stellar start…
If City can beat West Ham and Spurs in their next two Premier League games, they will equal a 117 year old record for our best start to a league season.
The Premier League record for consecutive wins is still a way off, however… City need to beat West Ham, Spurs, Newcastle and Bournemouth to set a new top flight record of 15 straight wins.
City begin their Champions League campaign against last season’s finalist Juventus on Tue 15th Sept at 7.45pm. For a first glimpse of new signings Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi, make sure you’re there to support the team for what promises to be an exciting night of European football. Buy your tickets now or enjoy the game in the new 93:20 bar from £67 + VAT.
Show your support for City U19s who also face Juventus, on the same day as the first team, in the UEFA Youth League. Kick-off is 5pm at the Academy Stadium. Tickets available now; Cityzens can redeem a free match ticket for this fixture now and non-Cityzens can purchase tickets.