How Manchester City rated as they swept relegation battlers Crystal Palace aside
Manchester City continued their push for the top four in emphatic style as they leapfrogged Liverpool into third place with victory over Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
With only 114 seconds on the clock, the returning David Silva capitalised on Martin Kelly’s weak clearance to fire the ball into the corner unopposed and give the hosts an early advantage.
Despite having ten attempts on goal in the first-half, City failed to capitalise on their dominance and nearly conceded when Christian Benteke’s header was strongly palmed away by Willy Caballero.
Yet Vincent Kompany’s thumping effort just three minutes after the break, shortly followed by Kevin de Bruyne’s low drive, ensured that Pep Guardiola’s side put the pressure on their top-four rivals.
The City onslaught showed no signs of relenting after that, and Raheem Sterling capped a fine performance with a fourth before Nicolas Otamendi rounded things off in injury-time to make it five.
The 5-0 victory sees City move four points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United ahead of their trip to Arsenal on Sunday, whilst Palace are still not yet mathematically assured of survival.
See below for how Pep Guardiola’s men rated as they kept up their Champions League push.
Willy Caballero – After 35 minutes of watching City’s onslaught at the other end of the field he produced a superb diving stop to deny Benteke’s corner-bound header. Solid when required. 6.
Gael Clichy – Generally had very little to deal with down the left-hand side as Palace preferred to use Zaha on the other flank. Did the basics well and tidied up when needed, but a very quiet match. 6.
Nicolas Otamendi – Had a quieter afternoon than he might have expected against an in-form Palace side but he was decisive throughout, stepping out of his line well to snuff out any impending danger. Was alive and alert even during periods of no action and ended proceedings with a thumping header. 8.
Vincent Kompany – Managed to contain the physical threat of Benteke well all afternoon but his lack of pace was exposed when Zaha had the rare chance take him on. More than made up for it when he doubled the advantage shortly after the break with an emphatic finish high into the net. 7.
Fernandinho – Deployed in a right-back role – not for the first time this season – but spent a lot of time further forward in the midfield alongside Toure, making searching runs into the box to add numbers to the attack. Often exposed on the counter though, leaving acres of space for Zaha to run into. 6.
Yaya Toure – Found himself with a lot of possession against a Palace side happy to sit back and counter, and he was often the driving force in starting City attacks. Dependable in the middle. 6.
Leroy Sane – Recalled to the starting line-up and was hungry to be on the ball, drifting between flanks and stretching the Palace defence with his pace and trickery. Seemed to do everything right except from score on Saturday, denied at least five times by Hennessey. Excellent day’s work. 8.
David Silva – Returned from the hamstring injury he picked up during the FA Cup semi-final defeat and made an immediate impact within 114 seconds, thumping into the corner for his 50th City goal. Ran the show at the Etihad and was deservedly given a standing ovation off the Etihad pitch. 9.
Kevin de Bruyne – Was part of a midfield that had Palace penned in their own final third for most of the match, and was always on the move. No surprise that he popped up with the assist for Kompany’s goal and got his just reward when he fired a powerful drive into the bottom corner. 8.
Raheem Sterling – One of City’s most impressive players, he was full of energy and regularly broke Palace’s back-line with runs in-behind. Had an effort cleared off the line, was involved in Silva’s opener and lashed home a deserved late strike in a lively and enterprising display on Saturday. 8.
Gabriel Jesus – Led the line on his own due to Aguero’s injury and showcased an immense work-rate, even when the result was put beyond doubt. Had little in the way of clear-cut chances in front of goal but did well in the build-up to De Bruyne’s strike, and will be vital to City’s top-four hopes. 7.
Pablo Zabaleta – Given a 25-minute run out for the returning Silva and did well in ensuring that there was no way back for the visitors. Could well have been one of his last games at the Etihad. 6.
Jesus Navas – Came on for a ten-minute cameo after being dropped to the bench. N/A.
Kelechi Iheanacho – Had little chance to make an addition to the score-line. N/A.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Serg Holohok.
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