Manchester City bounced back from defeat to Wolves with a convincing victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Goals from Gabriel Jesus and David Silva sealed a 2-0 win that sees City stay second in the Premier League table.
WHAT HAPPENED? City started superbly, moving the ball quickly and with purpose – a reaction, perhaps, to the chastening defeat to Wolves before the international break. Palace, who had enjoyed some excellent results going to the game, were struggling to get the ball. It was one-way traffic and City almost went ahead after 15 minutes. Kevin De Bruyne’s superb cross was inches away from being converted by Jesus three yards from goal, and Bernardo Silva forced Wayne Hennessey into a fine save with a shot from distance. Ilkay Gundogan, central to much of City’s best work in the early stages, hit a powerful drive from the edge of the box that required Hennessey to save with his legs with City very much in the ascendancy. We were being frustrated by a resilient Palace defence, but our patience soon paid off. Bernardo’s left-footed delivery towards the back post was headed home expertly by Jesus for his 50th City goal to put City ahead. And three minutes later, our lead was doubled. A quick break from inside our own area ended with Raheem Sterling’s scooped pass being volleyed home by David Silva. Speed, ingenuity and a ruthless finish - few goals this weekend will match this one for quality. A 2-0 half-time lead was the least City deserved after a vibrant 45 minutes. The second-half began in similar vein; Sterling almost making it three with a shot that went just wide of Hennessey's near post. De Bruyne went down inside the area under a challenge from Wilfried Zaha, but the referee, Anthony Taylor, ignored the Belgian's protestations and a quick VAR check upheld his initial decision. Jesus almost grabbed his second, but Hennessey's strong right hand kept his effort out. The Palace 'keeper was doing his best to limit City's scoring, and he produced another save moments later, tipping Bernardo's effort over the bar. For all of Hennessey's brilliance, Ederson managed to upsatge him with a quite remarkable one-handed save to deny substitute Christian Benteke, before a swift counter should have seen City add a third when Jesus went for goal instead of squaring the ball to an unmarked De Bruyne. The post then denied De Bruyne what would have been a rare headed goal, and Ederson made another special stop with three minutes left, this time denying Zaha. City's performance deserved more goals, but this felt like a vital three points and clear return to form.
MAN OF THE MATCH David Silva. His volley capped a brilliant performance that saw him dictate the pace and rhythm of the game. He's an undoubted genius and how we will miss him when he leaves us at the end of the season.
ALL-ROUNDER RAHEEM For all the praise that has quite rightly come Raheem Sterling's way in recent months for his attacking quality, it's worth noting his hard work and battling qualities, too. On two occasions in the first half alone, he chased back from his position on the right of the front three to make superb last-ditch challenges in our defensive third to stymie Palace attacks. His dinked pass to Silva was a moment of pure brilliance, and his constant running at the Palace defence was a joy to behold. Only some loose finishing denied him the goal his performance deserved.
STATZONE City's primary objective under Guardiola's guidance is to dominate the ball, and at Selhurst Park we managed 72 percent. It was complete dominance and Guardiola will no doubt feel the margin of victory should have been more.
WHAT IT MEANS City needed a positive reaction to the defeat at home to Wolves and we certainly got one. Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League is now five points, with the Merseysiders heading to Old Trafford tomorrow to face 14th-placed Manchester United. That game is live on Sky, with kick-off at 4.30pm. Leicester and Chelsea are just two points behind us after their wins over Burnley and Newcastle, respectively.
WHAT’S NEXT? City host Atalanta on Tuesday in the Champions League. We’ve taken six points from six so far in Group C and victory over the Italian side would put us on the brink of qualification for the knock-out phase. And we return to Premier League action next Saturday when Aston Villa, who beat Brighton 2-1 earlier today, visit the Etihad for the early kick-off.