Manchester City sent a strong message in the Premier League top four chase as they demolished giant-slayers Crystal Palace 5-0 on an early Saturday afternoon.
Here is our in-depth match report:
Form Guide & Team News
The hosts came into the match on the back of a three-match winless streak, looking to continue their top-four bid in the Premier League. Goalless stalemate against Manchester United was followed by a frustrating 2-2 draw at strugglers Middlesbrough and Pep Guardiola’s men wanted to make a statement early on Saturday afternoon.
Citizens were given huge boost with David Silva who started the match despite some issues with match fitness. On the other side, John Stones and Sergio Aguero were both ruled out due to injury.
Crystal Palace are a huge contrast to the first part of the season and Sam Allardyce has done a wonderful job to push Eagles to safety ever since he took the helm from Alan Pardew. Palace managed quite a few big-name scalps having beaten the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, but travelled to Etihad on the back of two consecutive defeats to Tottenham and Burnley, respectively.
Andros Townsend recovered from his Achilles problem to earn his place in the starting line-up, whereas Cabaye, Dann, Sakho, Tomkins, Wickham and Soare were all out of contention with injuries.
Manchester City sent a strong statement straight from the off as it only took two minutes from kick off for Citizens to open the scoring.
It was David Silva who helped Manchester City make a perfect start to the match as he marked his return to the starting berth with a goal. The Spanish maestro sent a clipped cross into the box for Sterling, but Crystal Palace defender Kelly made a clearance to push ball back to Silva, who struck home the finish as he continued his run into the box to follow up his cross.
The second-minute opened was David Silva’s 50th goal in a Manchester City shirt.
Manchester City completely dominated the first half with 72% ball possession and Crystal Palace could count themselves lucky they conceded only one goal in the first 45 minutes. The Citizens were on the front foot throughout the first half, but were unable to add more to the goal tally despite some great runs in dangerous area, through Raheem Sterling and particularly agile Leroy Sane in the first place.
Crystal Palace struggled to find their footing for the best part of the first half, but came close to scoring when Christian Benteke forced a wonderful save from Caballero with a firm header. Other than that, City goalkeeper did not have much to do.
Manchester City’s hard work and tenacious pressing paid dividends straight after the interval as Pep Guardiola doubled the score to 2-0 after only four minutes into the second half.
It was Vincent Kompany who might have just scored his best-ever goal for Manchester City. Manchester City defender stayed up in the box after an initial corner which was half dealt with by Palace, got away from his marker and found some space inside the box to fire the first-time shot into the top corner. A thing of beauty from the Belgian and an important momentum-boost for City.
Kevin De Bruyne was unlucky to score the third five minutes later when his fine effort ended up clipping the top of the crossbar, but the Belgium winger got his prize two minutes from the hour-mark when he made it comfortable 3-0 for the Citizens.
Gabriel Jesus rolled the ball into De Bruyne’s path at the edge of the box with Manchester City playmaker firing a first-time shot towards goal. It might not be the best of the shots, but it was enough to put the ball past Hennessey, who should have done much better on the occasion. Crystal Palace goalkeeper, however, worked great for the good part of an hour and this goal from De Bruyne can hardly be pinned on him.
Having wrapped up the game quite nicely with half an hour to spare, Pep Guardiola has decided to give David Silva a rest and introduce Pablo Zabaleta in an evidently defensive-minded move.
The Citizens did not pull back though and continued to play their game until the end.
Crystal Palace got close to getting a consolation at least when McArthur hit the woodwork ten minutes after City’s third goal, but instead of scoring one, Palace ended up conceding another.
Pablo Zabaleta did well to tee up Raheem Sterling at the edge of the box with eight minutes left on the clock, when City winger fired the ball into the bottom right corner for comprehensive 4-0.
If you though this was the end of it, you were wrong as Nicolas Otamendi rounded off the scoring with a beautiful goal in injury time. Man City defender rose above the defence inside the box and fired a bullet header from the free kick. Hennessey didn’t stand a single chance.
Five goals against Crystal Palace today have helped City move one place in front Liverpool and sit in third spot in the Premier League standings with only three more games to be played.
Top four race promises to be an exciting one until the very end.
- Man City dominated possession with 69% to Palace’s 31%
- Citizens made 26 goal attempts to Eagles’ mere 5
- Total of 12 Man City’s shots went on goal, only 2 from Palace
- David Silva scored his 50th goal for Man City
- Kevin De Bruyne reached impressive 44 league assists mark
MANCHESTER CITY: Caballero 6.5 – Fernandinho 6.5, Kompany 8.5, Otamendi 7.5, Clichy 7 – Toure 7.5 – Sane 7.5 (Navas -), De Bruyne 9, Silva 7.5 (Zabaleta 7), Sterling 7.5 – Jesus 7.5 (Iheanacho -)
Unused subs: Sagna, Fernando, Gunn.
CRYSTAL PALACE: Hennessey 6.5 – Ward 6, Kelly 6 (Delaney 6), Schlupp 6.5, van Aanholt 6 – McArthur 6.5, Milivojevic 6 (Flamini 6), Puncheon 6 – Townsend 6 (Lee -), Benteke 6, Zaha 6.5.
Unused subs: Speroni, Remy, Campbell, Sako.
REFEREE: Michael Oliver
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