Pep Guardiola felt his Manchester City side did “absolutely everything” in an attempt to beat Crystal Palace as their goalless draw at Selhurst Park blew the Premier League title race wide open.
With Liverpool coasting to victory at Brighton on Saturday, City failed to restore their six-point lead as a spirited Palace display saw them earn a deserved share of the spoils.
The result leaves City four points clear at the summit but the reigning champions have played a game more than Liverpool – who travel to in-form Arsenal on Wednesday night – with Jurgen Klopp’s side still to travel to the Etihad Stadium next month.
Joao Cancelo and Kevin De Bruyne hit the post as City toiled in their attempts to find a way past Palace for the second time this season but Guardiola praised the overall performance from his side.
“They did absolutely everything to win the game,” he said. “We played a really good game, a really, really good game at a difficult stadium and (against) a difficult side that defends deep.
“Football is the only game (where) it happens where statistics doesn’t count, if you don’t score a goal you don’t win it.
“Luck doesn’t exist in football. We have to score goals and we didn’t do it. We played to score goals and concede few. We struggled a little bit.
“It was an incredible effort from Crystal Palace, a fantastic team who defend really well.”
With Liverpool travelling to face City on April 10, the title race could once again go down to the wire but Guardiola believes there could be plenty of other twists and turns to come.
“There are still nine games, a lot of points,” he added, admitting he will be tuning in to watch Liverpool’s game at Arsenal.
“There are many, many games still and the way we play in general is more than good, but we didn’t win and we drop two points.
“We have points and one game more, (at the) international break we will be the leader – but who knows?
“We played a fantastic football game in all departments. We created a lot of chances to win and were unfortunate not to score.”
Palace created a number of their own opportunities but were unable to snatch a famous double over the reigning champions having won 2-0 in the reverse fixture.
Keeping two clean sheets against a side who have scored 68 goals across their other 27 league games this campaign is no mean feat and Eagles boss Patrick Vieira knows the battling draw could have a say in the destination of the title.
“It feels really good,” he said. “When you look at both games we played against them, we defended well as a team and I think our team performance was excellent.
“When you play against those teams, those players you need to be a little bit lucky at times and we force that luck to be on our side.
“I think there are still a lot of games in the table, obviously, we have made it more exciting for the neutrals.”
Another fine display from Conor Gallagher exemplified Palace’s efforts, with the England international saying after the game that he “can’t feel his legs” – something that impressed his boss.
“I can’t stop him and I don’t want to stop him,” added Vieira. “That is the energy that pushes the fans to be behind us.
“The last 10 minutes was difficult but the fans made it easy for us to manage it. Conor, that is his strength and it is why we love him.”
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