Man City 5-0 Crystal Palace: David Silva helps hosts go third
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 06/05/17 5:30pm
David Silva shone as Manchester City moved up to third in the Premier League after beating Crystal Palace 5-0 at the Etihad on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola's side led 1-0 at half-time thanks to Silva's strike just one minute and 54 seconds into his return from injury - the Spain international's 50th goal for the club.
However, despite dominating the first half, City did not increase their lead until early in the second period when Vincent Kompany converted a low cross with a thunderous strike.
The game was over as a contest minutes later when the hosts scored again thanks to Kevin De Bruyne's low shot from the edge of the area, before late strikes from Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Otamendi completed the scoring.
As a result, City leapfrog Liverpool in the race to qualify for next season's Champions League, while 16th-placed Palace still need one more win to be all but mathematically safe from the drop.
With Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins and Scott Dann all unavailable with injury, Palace manager Sam Allardyce opted to play Jeffrey Schlupp as a makeshift central defender.
However, it was Schlupp's partner at the back, Martin Kelly, who was at fault for City's opener, the defender heading Sterling's cross from the left-hand byline straight to the unmarked Silva, who finished unerringly from eight-yards out.
The move began with a beautifully weighted ball over the top from Silva - back after two games out with a hamstring injury - to pick out Sterling, who had somehow managed to ghost in on Andros Townsend's blindside.
That second-minute strike was just the lift in confidence City needed after struggling for form in recent weeks, with the twinkle-toed duo of Silva and Leroy Sane running the show before the break.
But despite the increasingly busy Wayne Hennessey twice being called upon at his near post to keep out well-struck shots from Sane, it was actually the visitors who came closest to scoring next.
And they would have done were it not for a brilliant reaction save by Willy Caballero, continuing to deputise for Claudio Bravo after the goalkeeper was ruled out for the season, to keep out Christian Benteke's close-range header 10 minutes before half-time following good wing play down the right by Townsend.
Guardiola will no doubt have been disappointed that his side were only one goal ahead at the interval, although not for long as City made an electric start to the second half, Kompany finding the net at the Etihad for the first time in nearly two years with a clinical strike just four minutes after the break.
After Palace had cleared a left-wing corner, De Bruyne picked up possession before the Belgian spotted his compatriot in space some 14-yards out, although the City captain still had much to do as he thundered an unstoppable volley into the top right-hand corner of the net.
With the breathing space of a two-goal cushion, City were now rampant, with De Bruyne hitting the top of the bar with a free-kick, before Hennessey was again needed to beat clear a low drive from Sane.
Those near misses mattered little, however, as City soon added a third on the hour-mark, although on this occasion there were questions over Hennessey's positioning for the goal.
Gabriel Jesus, starting up front in place of the injured Sergio Aguero, found De Bruyne some 25 yards from goal and from a tight angle towards the right edge of the box, the forward beat the Palace 'keeper with a low shot that the Wales international got a hand to, but could not keep out.
Sterling then added a fourth eight minutes from time following a well-worked goal.
Yaya Toure's inch-perfect cross-field pass found Pablo Zabaleta in space on the right of the area, with the substitute's clever knock-down being drilled into the back of the net by Sterling as the England international again reached double figures for the season.
And the scoring was rounded off when Otamendi glanced in De Bruyne's stoppage-time free kick.
Man City: Caballero (8), Fernandinho (7), Kompany (8), Otamendi (7), Clichy (6), Yaya Toure (7), Sterling (8), De Bruyne (8), Silva (9), Sane (8), Gabriel Jesus (7)
Subs used: Zabaleta (7), Navas (6), Iheanacho (6)
Crystal Palace: Hennessey (7), Ward (6), Kelly (6), Van Aanholt (6), Schlupp (6), Milivojevic (6), Puncheon (6), McArthur (6), Zaha (7), Townsend (7), Benteke (7)
Subs used: Delaney (6), Flamini (6), Lee (6)
Man of the match: Kevin De Bruyne