Manchester City's Barclays Premier League title destiny is back in their own hands following a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Manuel Pellegrini's men sit third in the top flight, three points behind leaders Liverpool, but triumphs in their three remaining fixtures would almost certainly be enough to secure glory after the Anfield outfit lost to Chelsea earlier in the day.
The 2011-12 Barclays Premier League champions, who hold a match in hand over Liverpool and a significantly superior goal difference, wasted no time in making the Merseysiders pay for their earlier slip-up – Edin Dzeko heading Man City in front at Selhurst Park with the game less than four minutes old.
The remainder of the first half passed by largely without incident, until Yaya Toure - making his return from injury - curled home a wonderful effort just before the interval.
Defeat brings an end to Palace's remarkable five-match winning run, while City's title tilt is well and truly back on track with games against Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham United to come.
Palace's stay in the top-flight looked set to be nothing more than a brief cameo for much of the campaign, but their resurgence under Tony Pulis has seen them emerge as major protagonists in a season of twists and turns at both ends of the table.
However, City started Sunday's contest in confident mood and swiftly moved ahead after bursting out of the blocks in south London.
With Pellegrini's charges clearly galvanised by Liverpool's earlier defeat, Toure sent a delightful chip into the Palace area, which Dzeko nodded in for his fifth goal in his last eight Barclays Premier League appearances.
City initially struggled to build on their early breakthrough and rarely threatened Julian Speroni's goal prior to Toure seeing an effort blocked by Scott Dann in the box. The Ivory Coast international appeared in sensational form after shaking off a thigh problem, and extended his side's lead two minutes before the break.
After exchanging passes with Samir Nasri, Toure forced his way into the area before showing great composure to curl the ball around Speroni.
Palace made the early running in the second period and the in-form Jason Puncheon forced Joe Hart to punch an effort around his right-hand post.
Toure, instrumental to everything that was good about City's performance, was withdrawn after 65 minutes on his return, to be replaced by Fernandinho.
Yet the visitors remained in control and could have moved three up when Speroni reacted well to keep out a deflected Dzeko strike.
Neither side were able to find the net as the game drew to a close, but results at Selhurst Park - where Chelsea were beaten last month - could well prove pivotal in the destination of the Barclays Premier League trophy, and it is leaders Liverpool who face a visit Palace a week on Monday.
Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis: "For us to win the game today, every player had to be at their best and you're hoping to catch Manchester City not at their best. You have to realise that playing against some teams it's not a level playing field.
"You have a look at the players they've got; Toure being fit was a real big disappointment for me because I think he's a wonderful player and he can do things that can cause havoc. He showed glimpses today and when you think he's been out for three weeks and he's come in and done that, it's absolutely wonderful.
"Half the Palace players, they'd have to be honest and say that they never played at their maximum."
"There's another game against a fantastic football club [Liverpool] in eight days' time," Pulis added. "[It's] a night game and it will be a great atmosphere here and I just hope the players are on it and we give a real good show, put a real good show on."
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: "It was a happy day and it was very important for us. Before today we were depending on other teams. Now we continue as we were two weeks ago, depending only on what we do.
"It was important to get a good start but also not to let Crystal Palace score. It was a very professional performance, but it's not finished. We have to play three games more. We will see in the future who will be the best."
"Of course we talked with the players [about the Liverpool result] before the game, but we could not play against Palace depending on Liverpool. We still had to win so we were very concentrated on our own game."
|05 May 2014||v Liverpool (H)|
|11 May 2014||v Fulham (A)|
|27 Sep 2014||v Crystal Palace (H)|
|04 Oct 2014||v Hull (A)|
|18 Oct 2014||v Crystal Palace (H)|
|25 Oct 2014||v West Brom (A)|