RAHEEM STERLING struck twice as Manchester City stayed top of the table with another convincing win.
Pep Guardiola’s men looked did not quite hit the heights in the first half but Leroy Sane settled their nerves with a goal right on half-time.
And the England winger – who was linked with a move away from the Etihad before last month’s deadline – made the points safe with two simple goals.
City were expected to continue their rampant recent form against rock-bottom Palace who had yet to score a Premier League goal this season.
But Pep Guardiola had told his players they must go to bed on Friday night knowing they could lose the game – and not take anything for granted.
It could have been a perfect start for City as Kevin de Bruyne’s cross was nodded against his own post by Mamadou Sakho.
But Palace could have taken a surprise lead with Ruben Loftus-Cheek striking a deflected effort against the post from 20 yards.
And the on loan Chelsea man then flashed a cross shot across goal when he should really have hit the target.
Sergio Aguero – looking for the two goals he needed to go become City’s leading scorer – scooped an effort over the bar that you have expected him to score.
But right on half-time City made the breakthrough as a clever chip from David Silva was controlled by Leroy Sane.
He clipped the ball over the head of Scott Dann and when it dropped he rolled it underneath Wayne Hennessey for a super goal.
Soon after the re-start the German turned provider as the home side eased further ahead.
He sped down the left and put over a perfect cross which Raheem Sterling could hardly miss and he buried it beyond Hennessey.
Sterling should have had another moments later but the game was beyond doubt before the hour as de Bruyne and Aguero combined to tee up the ex-Liverpool man for a second.
It was a question of how many then and Sane’s cross was met by the head of Aguero and his effort had just enough on it to beat Hennessey.
Just one to go for Sergio.
But that’s 21 in five games for City – he won’t have to wait too much longer.
STATS, FACTS, GOALS & LOLS
- Crystal Palace are the only side in the big five European leagues yet to score this season.
- Leroy Sane has scored five goals from just six shots on target in all competitions for Man City this season.
- Pep Guardiola was spotted giving a team talk to a ball-boy at 38 minutes.
- Fantasy football managers who made Aguero captain breathed a sigh of relief as he scored in the 79th minute of the game.
- Raheem Sterling has scored five goals in his last four Premier League games, as many as he’d scored in his previous 31.
- Crystal Palace also now own an unwanted Premier League record for the longest wait for a first goal.
- Match of the day call Pep Guardiola the new ‘tinkerman’ – Pep masterclass anyone?
- The Roy Hodgson memes start to circulate on twitter as the full time whistle is blown.
- Manchester City are unbeaten in 14 Premier League matches, winning 11 of them.
WHAT THEY SAID
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola: “In the first half, the ball should be in the possession of the feet. Everything was slow. Anything can happen.”
“In the second half, we were what we have been in the last games. We had the right tempo and patience in the right times.”
“I have five strikers who all deserve to play. Gabriel is amazing, Bernardo always creates, Raz, Leroy, Sergio…”
“I know Shakhtar very well. They have four or five Brazilians. Every time they buy amazing players they have experience – a top team.”
“We need to make a huge step in the Champions League. Hopefully we can learn what we have not done well and take it into Tuesday’s game.”
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling: “When we get into positions we are making more of the right decisions. At this level you need to be taking those chances.
“I spoke to Roy Hodgson afterwards and wished him well. He’s a top person and manager and helped me with the national team. I give him all my best for the future.”
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson: “I thought at half-time to come at 1-0 down is a bit unfortunate. I thought we’d played some good football.
“Two quick goals then and when they get a few up, with their quality, passing and movement it becomes very difficult.
“We know there is a lot of work to do with this group and they know that too.
“The goal before half-time was very damaging. We didn’t defend anywhere near as well as we should have done for that goal. We looked reasonably dangerous on the counter-attack but when they go 1-0 up we have to score. In the end we have been heavily beaten.”
“I am learning about the team all the time and they are learning. There were elements missing from our game today that we have to instill. Today was a harsh lesson.
“Our focus has to be in May. By the latter part of the season the players must know what we are looking for. They should themselves feel stronger by then. In the short-term these kind of defeats are staring us in the face as we are playing quality teams.”