Manchester City's guile and style blasts Crystal Palace away to take step towards Champions League qualification

Manchester City 5 Crystal Palace 0: Vincent Kompany's powerful second killed the contest off before City exposed a fragile Palace side that were simply outplayed

Click to follow
The Independent Football

A match between Pep Guardiola and Sam Allardyce offers one of the Premier League’s more fascinating style clashes. As it turned out, their meeting was barely a contest.

Guardiola’s Manchester City had the guile and style. Allardyce’s Crystal Palace did not show enough of the work ethic required to rough up the aristocrats. The result was a straightforward home win.

David Silva’s return from injury gave City just the pep their manager required; the playmaker marked his 200th Premier League start with a well-taken goal inside the first two minutes, and once Vincent Kompany had made it 2-0 early in the second half, the home side never looked back.

Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Otamendi added gloss with further goals to ensure a City  win, and increase the likelihood of Champions League qualification. After a fair few stumbles over the last two months, this was a very welcome victory for Guardiola.

The manager has pinpointed a failure in both penalty areas as the chief reason for their failure to mount a title challenge this season. Too often, City have failed to take chances, while conceding too freely. Guardiola’s first season in England has disproved the idea that possession is nine-tenths of the law.

They started well against Palace, they looked as if they would revert to bad habits. Silva’s early goal was followed by half-an-hour of domination with nothing further to show for it, before City nearly lost the lead out of nowhere. The wobble was overcome, though.

“If we had arrived in the last 20 minutes of the game at 1-0, then we would not have won the game,” Guardiola said.

“I said that at half-time to the players: ‘Score a goal or forget about it – we are not able to win.’ It has happened a lot of times this season. I hope next season, we improve on that.”

The opener, City’s fastest in any game this season, came with just one minute and 54 seconds played, as Silva starting and finished the move.

david-silva1.jpg
David Silva celebrates putting Manchester City ahead inside two minutes (Getty)

Back from a fortnight out with a knee injury, the Spain playmaker angled a chip towards Raheem Sterling and then, when the cross was half-cleared by Martin Kelly, timed his run perfectly to sidefoot a volley into the corner of the net.

The Palace defence was stretched repeatedly as City sought more, and goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was alert to beat out two shots from Leroy Sane, who had cut in from the left to drive at goal on both occasions.

Yet for all their pressure, City could easily have lost their lead 10 minutes before half-time, when Andros Townsend got down the right to cross, Christian Benteke climbed above stand-in right-back Fernandinho to head down, and Willy Caballero made a fine one-handed save.

vincent-kompany1.jpg
Kompany produced a lovely finish to smash home the second (Getty)

However, Guardiola’s side recovered their composure and extended their lead three minutes after the restart.

After De Bruyne’s corner had been cleared, Silva worked the ball back to the Belgium international, who rolled a pass inside for Kompany to sweep in with a vicious first-time shot.

De Bruyne almost made it three with a dipping 25-yard free-kick that brushed the top of the crossbar, before Hennessey was called into action twice more to deny Fernandinho and Sane.

vincent-kompany.jpg
Vincent Kompany celebrates after scoring Manchester City's second goal (Getty)

However, Guardiola’s side recovered their composure and extended their lead three minutes after the restart.

After De Bruyne’s corner had been cleared, Silva worked the ball back to the Belgium international, who rolled a pass inside for Kompany to sweep in with a vicious first-time shot.

De Bruyne almost made it three with a dipping 25-yard free-kick that brushed the top of the crossbar, before Hennessey was called into action twice more to deny Fernandinho and Sane.

kevin-de-bruyne.jpg
Kevin De Bruyne celebrates with Leroy Sane after netting the third (Getty)

With his growing influence on the game, De Bruyne deserved a goal, and it arrived shortly before the hour mark, steering a shot under Hennessey and just inside the post after Sterling had held off Schlupp to reach Silva’s header forward and set up the chance.

By now, City were in total control, and the fourth goal had the feel of a training ground exercise about it. Yaya Toure had all the time he wanted to play a diagonal ball towards substitute Pablo Zabaleta, who guided a header back for Sterling to finish from 20 yards.

raheem-sterling.jpg
Raheem Sterling celebrates adding the fourth for City (Getty)

Palace then suffered what, for Allardyce, must have been the ultimate indignity: Conceding from a set-piece. Their defence dozed as De Bruyne swung in a free-kick, and the unmarked Otamendi could hardly believe his luck as he dived to head in.

Allardyce was not a happy man. “All five goals could have been avoided if we had defended properly,” he said. “That is the biggest disappointment.

“Manchester City, normally when they beat you here, produce outstanding skills but we gifted them easy chances to score and they thrashed us.”

Teams

Manchester City (4-1-4-1): Caballero; Fernandinho, Kompany, Otamendi, Clichy; Toure; Sane (Navas 84), De Bruyne, Silva (Zabaleta 67), Sterling; Jesus (Iheanacho 84).

Substitutes not used: Gunn, Sagna, Kolarov, Fernando.

Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Hennessey; Ward, Kelly (Delaney 76), Schlupp, van Aanholt; McArthur, Milivojevic (Flamini 67), Puncheon; Townsend (Lee 57), Benteke, Zaha.

Substitutes not used: Speroni, Sako, Remy, Campbell.

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

Comments