John Stones scored twice as Manchester City eased to a 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace to go second in the Premier League.
Stones netted either side of Ilkay Gundogan’s brilliant 20-yard effort, before Raheem Sterling’s free-kick completed the rout to extend our unbeaten run to 15 games and move us up to second in the table, two points behind leaders Manchester United.
City went ahead when Stones glanced Kevin De Bruyne’s superb cross past Vicente Guaita to score his first Premier League goal for the Club, as the Belgian provided his 100th assist since his arrival in Manchester.
Gundogan put Pep Guardiola’s side in a commanding position approaching the hour mark, when he dispossessed Andros Townsend on the edge of the area and curled a sumptuous effort into the top corner.
Stones got his second and City’s third after Guaita could only parry Ruben Dias’ downward header from a corner and the Portugal international’s defensive partner reacted like a seasoned striker to lash the ball under the Palace goalkeeper from 10-yards.
Sterling wrapped up the points two minutes from time when he fired a free-kick into the top corner from 18-yards and the victory means City will go top of the league if we win our game in hand on leaders United.
DE BRUYNE’S SPECIAL DELIVERY
Prior to kick-off, Roy Hodgson had spoken about the need for his side to survive the City onslaught and, with 11 men often stationed in their own half, survival mode made the visitors stubborn opposition in the opening 45-minutes.
The home side dominated possession but failed to truly test Guaita until De Bruyne delivered with a moment of the highest quality to reach a century of assists in some style.
The close attentions of James McArthur and Tyrick Mitchell appeared to give the Belgian few options when he collected Fernandinho’s cross field pass, but he had other ideas, delivering an in swinging ball with the outside of his right foot for Stones to nod home.
A sensational piece of skill from a sensational player.
PEP GUARDIOLA: PLAYERS MAKE IT EASY
“We didn’t concede, we had to be patient and Palace defended really well. We were so stable, it is an important victory.
“When we handle top teams we are fortunate to have this quality. In the final third when Kevin de Bruyne makes the assist, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling put it in the top corner, and John Stones was on fire in the box.
“It’s easy for me when you have these players.”
MAN OF THE MATCH – JOHN STONES
City face Aston Villa in the Premier League on Wednesday 20 January. Kick-off at the Etihad Stadium is at 18:00 (UK).