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December 20, 2014

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — David Silva scored twice Saturday as defending champion Manchester City, playing without a recognized striker, provisionally drew level with Chelsea at the top of the Premier League with a convincing 3-0 victory against Crystal Palace.

It was City's sixth league win in succession and eighth in all competitions, one short of equaling the club record.

Both Chelsea and City have 39 points, but City has played one more game than Chelsea, which travels to Stoke City on Monday. Chelsea tops the league thanks to a superior goal difference of 23 to City's 22.

After a listless first half at the Etihad Stadium, City began the second with two goals by David Silva who struck after 49 and 61 minutes with two left-foot shots, the first taking a deflection off Palace defender Scott Dann. Yaya Toure swept in City's third with 10 minutes remaining.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini said: "It was a very good win, a very good performance. I enjoyed the way the team worked the whole week — to work in a different way without strikers.

"Palace are a team who know how to defend. It was a great job to score three goals."

Palace offered tough resistance in the opening period as City, missing injured strikers Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic, as well as captain and defense lynchpin Vincent Kompany, struggled to penetrate and failed to produce a single shot on target.

Playing with six midfielders, City enjoyed long spells of possession and survived a few scares before breaking through and taking control.

City increased the tempo in the second half and went ahead within four minutes when Zabaleta burst into the box and pulled the ball back for Silva whose shot struck Dann and looped over Julian Speroni.

City continued to press and scored its second when Silva diverted the ball in from six yards following an accurate low cross by Aleksandar Kolarov.

It was Silva's last significant act before he was replaced by Frank Lampard.

Palace's hopes were dashed when a headed goal by James McArthur was ruled out for offside as the visitors sought a way back into the game before Toure scored City's third with nine minutes remaining, appearing to be played onside by Fernandinho.

Palace manager Neil Warnock said: "I don't know why top class officials get it wrong. It wasn't even close. It was a disgraceful decision."

Navas released Milner who held the ball up before feeding Toure, who strode forward and hit a powerful shot high past the goalkeeper.

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