Silva, De Bruyne orchestrate City’s 5-0 win over Palace
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City playmakers David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne orchestrated a 5-0 win over Crystal Palace in the English Premier League on Saturday, as Pep Guardiola’s team rediscovered its attacking potency at Etihad Stadium to cement a top-four place.
Running an open game from central midfield, Silva and De Bruyne both scored and played a part in another goal curled home sweetly by Vincent Kompany. Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Otamendi, again from a free kick by De Bruyne, added late goals as Palace was swept aside, leaving the visitors still to definitely secure their top-flight status for another season.
City climbed to third place, above Liverpool on goal difference, and opened up a four-point gap to fifth-placed Manchester United, which plays at Arsenal on Sunday. Another season in the Champions League is looking increasingly likely for City with games left against Leicester and West Bromwich Albion at home and away to Watford.
Despite being without injured top scorer Sergio Aguero, City recorded its biggest league win under Guardiola, having often struggled to put away teams at home because of wayward finishing and sloppy defending.
“We wanted to set up this chain of homes games right,” Kompany said. “It couldn’t have gone any better. But we need to repeat those performances in the next two games at home.”
Palace manager Sam Allardyce chose to field a four-man defense made up entirely of full backs, chiefly because of injuries to Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins and Scott Dann but also in an attempt to combat City’s young, dynamic front three of Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Sterling.
It was breached inside two minutes, through Silva, and somehow avoided conceding a second goal until early in the second half when City cut loose.
“We deserved to get punished like we did,” Allardyce said. “Our strength has been our defensive unit and it was in tatters by the end.
“We didn’t have to make them produce their extraordinary talent today,” Allardyce said of City. “We gifted them all five goals.”
Everything City did went through Silva, who passed a late fitness test to return after missing the recent draws against Man United and Middlesbrough. His creativity and vision was sorely missed by City in those games, and Palace didn’t know how to deal with him here.
Silva was given a standing ovation when he was substituted in the 67th minute, the damage to Palace done by then.
Silva gleefully swept home his opening goal after Martin Kelly, a right back playing at center back, failed to adequately head clear a short cross from Sterling. It was Silva’s 50th goal for the club.
City dominated possession and pounded the Palace goal — Sane was thwarted three times by goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey — but still gave its opponent space at the other end, with Willy Caballero saving well from Christian Benteke’s downward header late in the first half.
It got messy for Palace after halftime, from the moment De Bruyne collected Silva’s pass and cut the ball back for Kompany to lash in a curling shot from 15 meters in the 49th.
De Bruyne ran onto Gabriel Jesus’ lay-off to curl in a shot from the edge of the area that squirmed past Hennessey in the 59th, Sterling drilled in left-footed from substitute Pablo Zabaleta’s nod-down in the 82nd, and De Bruyne curled in a free kick for Otamendi to head past Hennessey in injury time.
Palace is six points ahead of third-to-last Swansea, having played a game extra.