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Man City 4-0 Crystal Palace: John Stones double as Kevin De Bruyne registers 100th Man City assist

Report and free match highlights as John Stones scores his first Premier League goals for Man City; Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling also scored superb goals as Man City extended their unbeaten run to 15 games in all comps; Crystal Palace’s five-match unbeaten run in Manchester ends

Football journalist

Sunday 17 January 2021 21:43, UK

The resurgence of John Stones continued on Sunday as he scored twice in a 4-0 win against Crystal Palace, with Kevin De Bruyne registering his 100th Manchester City assist.

Crystal Palace were unbeaten in their last two visits to The Etihad, but Man City were in control throughout and took the lead with a milestone goal. De Bruyne nabbed his century of assists when Stones (26) nodded home his first Premier League goal for the club.

Man City added another shortly after the break with a sensational strike from Ilkay Gundogan (56), before Stones (68) slotted home his second of the evening after Vicente Guaita had initially saved Ruben Dias’ header in his first-ever Premier League double.

100 – Kevin De Bruyne has now assisted 100 goals in all competitions for Manchester City, 31 more than any other Premier League player since making his debut for the club. Royalty. pic.twitter.com/QAs70G77oz

Raheem Sterling (88) rounded off the victory late on with a sublime free-kick as Man City extended their winning run to five Premier League games.

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It was the perfect way for Pep Guardiola to mark his 50th birthday on Monday as Man City leapfrog Tottenham, Liverpool – who drew 0-0 with Manchester United earlier in the day – and Leicester into second, two points behind United with a game in hand. Crystal Palace remain in 13th and failed to have a shot on target.

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How Man City swept Crystal Palace away

The opening 25 minutes were rather quiet by all accounts with Man City seeing some half chances and Crystal Palace doing well in attack, even without star man Wilfried Zaha.

The hosts saw the first real opening as Sterling drove forward after some poor control from Joel Ward and played in De Bruyne on his left, but his squared cross was seen away by Ward.

A minute later and Man City took the lead. De Bruyne’s initial corner was cleared by Luka Milivojevic, but only as far as Sterling. He then picked out the Belgian again on the right wing, who lofted a wonderful cross into the area, which was nodded home emphatically by Stones.

It was the defender’s first Premier League goal since April 2015 as De Bruyne registered his landmark Man City assist.

Player ratings

Man City: Ederson (5), Walker (6), Dias (7), Stones (8), Zinchenko (6), De Bruyne (8), Fernandinho (7), Gundogan (7), Sterling (7), Silva (7), Jesus (6).

Subs used: Foden (7), Torres (6), Cancelo (6).

Crystal Palace: Guaita (6), Ward (5), Tomkins (6), Cahill (6), Mitchell (6), McArthur (6), McCarthy (6), Milivojevic (7), Townsend (6), Eze (6), Ayew (6).

Subs used: Riedewald (5), Batshuayi (5).

Man of the match: John Stones.

The hosts could have added a second shortly before the break. Bernardo Silva floated a cross into the area, which was headed on by Gundogan. Gabriel Jesus was waiting in the middle to head home, but James Tomkins did just enough to put him off, with the ball landing safely into Guaita’s hands.

Much like the first half, the second started rather quietly but it was brought to life with a stunning goal from Gundogan. Silva’s corner was cleared by Milivojevic, but Andros Townsend could not keep the ball under his control. Gundogan nipped in to take it, turning round the Crystal Palace man before sending a sensational, curling effort into the far corner.

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De Bruyne almost added a goal to his 100th assist, but fired just wide after the hour mark. Jesus tapped the ball into his feet and he was afforded all the time to set himself up, but ended up dragging his effort wide.

But it was the in-form Stones who added the third after and a corner was the catalyst once again. Dias nodded De Bruyne’s delivery straight at Guaita, but Stones was lurking to slot home the rebounded ball for his second of the evening.

It was another sublime strike that sealed the victory for Man City in the final throes. Ferran Torres won a free kick on the right edge of the area and it was a sweet strike from Sterling into the top corner – his first goal from direct free-kick in his senior career – to seal a much-deserved three points.

Man of the match – John Stones

It was another superb performance from Man City’s comeback kid. He only had two shots on target, but they were both goals, and well-taken ones at that. Defenders are known for their abilities in the air, but it was the Sergio Aguero-esque poachers goal for his second that was the most impressive.

He had the highest number of successful passes – 112 of his 117 made it at a rate of 95.7 per cent – and also led the way for touches (120). Let’s also not forget that he helped keep a clean sheet too in his day job as centre back and helped gain possession six times, one fewer than Fernandinho.

Sky Sports co-commentator Andy Hinchcliffe said: “Stones had contributed enormously defensively to City’s recent good run, but his contribution tonight has been all attacking. Two really good goals, lots of touches and he just looks so assured, completely different from the player we’ve seen previously.”

Opta stats

  • Manchester City are the first team to record five consecutive victories in the Premier League in 2020-21, while they’re now unbeaten in nine games in the competition (W7 D2).
  • John Stones and Ruben Dias have started together in 10 games for Manchester City in all competitions this season, while they’ve only conceded one goal across these 10 fixtures (W9 D1 L0).
  • Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has now made 10+ assists in a league season on five occasions while playing in the top five European leagues – since De Bruyne did so for the first time in 2014-15 while playing for Wolfsburg, only Lionel Messi has managed it on as many occasions as him (also five).

What’s next?

Man City are back in action on Wednesday when they welcome Aston Villa in the Premier League; kick-off 6pm. They will then travel to Cheltenham in the FA Cup on Saturday. Crystal Palace now have an extended break, back in on Tuesday 27 January when they host West Ham; kick-off 6pm.

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