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C Palace 2 – 4 Man City

SportsC Palace 2 - 4 Man City

A wonderful Kevin De Bruyne double – including his 100th goal for Manchester City – helped the Premier League’s defending champions to a 4-2 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday which kept them just a point behind Arsenal at the top of the table.

It was far from plain sailing for a shaky City in the first half in south London, with a John Stones error allowing Jean-Philippe Mateta to put Palace ahead and further sloppy passes from Rodri leading to Jordan Ayew hitting the bar and Stefan Ortega having to pull off a Cruyff turn in his own six-yard box to prevent Mateta adding another.

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Sky Sports Gary Cotterill and Peter Smith discuss how important it is for Manchester United that Kevin De Bruyne finds form at this stage of the season.

But the returning De Bruyne curled in a brilliant equaliser, and two minutes into the second half Rico Lewis gave City the lead their possession and chance creation in that first 45 warranted.

Like De Bruyne, Erling Haaland was recalled to City’s starting XI on Saturday and, after a quiet first half in which he had just seven touches, the striker will have been pleased to tuck in a cross from the Belgian to end his five-game run without a goal for club and country.

De Bruyne then lashed in his milestone strike from a Rodri lay-off to put City into cruise control, although Odsonne Edouard’s late finish – after Ruben Dias had cleared another of his efforts off the line minutes earlier – gave the visitors a trickier final few minutes than they were expecting.

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne (centre) celebrates with Josko Gvardiol (left) and Julian Alvarez after scoring their equaliser
Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne (centre) celebrates with Josko Gvardiol (left) and Julian Alvarez after scoring their equaliser

But with De Bruyne and Haaland scoring and Phil Foden given the afternoon off after his hat-trick on Thursday, City’s key players look primed for their huge Champions League quarter-final away day at Real Madrid on Tuesday.

As for Palace, they are now on a run of one win in eight. They sit eight points above the relegation zone with seven games to play.

Player ratings

Crystal Palace: Henderson (7), Lerma (6), Andersen (6), Ward (6), Mitchell (6), Wharton (7), Hughes (6), Munoz (6), Ayew (6), Mateta (7), Eze (6).

Subs used: Schlupp (7), Olise (7), Edouard (7), Clyne (6), Ahamada (6)

Man City: Ortega (6), Lewis (7), Stones (6), Dias (7), Gvardiol (6), Rodri (6), De Bruyne (9), Bobb (6), Alvarez (7), Haaland (7), Grealish (7).

Subs used: Akanji (6), Nunes (6), Kovacic (6), Silva (N/A)

Player of the match: Kevin De Bruyne

How City came from behind to win at Palace…

With Haaland and De Bruyne the headline returnees to the City XI, Stones’ comeback from the groin injury which he suffered on England duty may have gone under the radar. But he was in the spotlight just four minutes in when a loose pass into midfield was seized upon by Palace and the impressive Adam Wharton set Mateta away to fire in off the far post. It’s five goals in nine games for the Palace striker, who looks transformed this season.

Team news headlines

  • Crystal Palace were unchanged from the side which lost at Bournemouth but fit-again Michael Olise returned to the squad.
  • Man City made four changes, with hat-trick hero Phil Foden benched and Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland back in the XI. Manuel Akanji, Jeremy Doku and Bernardo Silva also dropped out with John Stones and Oscar Bobb coming in. Fit-again Ederson was on the bench.

Wharton almost opened City up again moments later but overhit a pass to Eberechi Eze and a City barrage followed. Dean Henderson saved sharply from Julian Alvarez and Rodri in quick succession but he could do nothing to keep out De Bruyne’s beauty. Cutting in from the left side of the penalty box, the Belgian found the top corner with class.

Haaland should have made it two when Henderson saved his one-on-one chance and, despite their 81 per cent possession figure, it was an uncertain finish to the half from City.

Jean-Philippe Mateta scores the opening goal of the game
Jean-Philippe Mateta scores the opening goal of the game

A poor Rodri pass gave Palace a three-on-one, with Dias exposed – but Ayew kept the ball to himself and lashed a shot against the bar and over. Glasner’s reaction underlined he should have done better. There was another casual pass from Rodri when his ball back to Ortega forced the ‘keeper to flick the ball away from Mateta.

City were their own worst enemy and Josko Gvardiol was relieved to see no punishment handed out when he tumbled Eze in the box under a high cross just before the break.

The visitors’ nerves were settled right at the start of the second half, though, when Joel Ward’s half-clearance fell to Lewis in the box and the youngster’s deflected effort put City in front. The 19-year-old has scored two Premier League goals – both against Palace this season.

Manchester City's Rico Lewis celebrates after scoring his side's second goal
Manchester City’s Rico Lewis celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal

Alvarez saw a shot deflected wide off Joachim Anderson who was down injured, Jack Grealish fired over and De Bruyne bent a shot wide as City pressed for a third and it came soon after the hour mark when De Bruyne cut the ball back for Haaland to stab in a simple finish. That was his 30th goal in all competitions this season.

Just four minutes later the ball was in the net again, with De Bruyne hitting his century for City when Rodri cushioned Grealish’s pass for him to blast home.

Kevin De Bruyne celebrates with Erling Haaland after scoring Man City's fourth goal
Kevin De Bruyne celebrates with Erling Haaland after scoring Man City’s fourth goal

It should have been routine for City from there but Palace were galvanised by a late sub appearance from fit-again Michael Olise, who played a part after Daniel Munoz robbed Manuel Akanji to tee up Edouard for a goal-bound shot which Dias had to block. The Palace forward wasn’t to be denied, turning in a late cross from Jeff Schlupp but by then City’s victory was assured.

They now turn their focus to Europe and Madrid.

Guardiola praises ‘special talent’ De Bruyne

Man City boss Pep Guardiola: “We were not solid like normally we are. Three days, three days, the mental energy we wasted [with lots of games is] more than the physical. It’s tremendous. That’s why sometimes that happens.

“Today Kevin, without him we wouldn’t be able to win. We can talk about tactics but give me players like Kevin!

“It was five months out. He’s had good moments in games back. After that he was not maybe his best, that’s normal. A really, really special talent.

“He is mentally fresh, for sure. I listen to him on the bus, in the locker toom, train station, laughing. The body language is how he is. All the players but especially Kevin. Ten years in Man City, the consistency has been amazing. One of the best players in all our history of Man City. The first goal is unbelievable, the fourth is unbelievable.”

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Speaking on Soccer Saturday, Clinton Morrison gives his take on Kevin De Bruyne’s stunning strike for Manchester City at Crystal Palace.

Glasner: I’m not satisfied but there were positives

Crystal Palace boss Oliver Glasner: “When we lose 4-2 I’m never satisfied but there were many positives in our game. We scored an excellent first goal. Their equaliser was too fast and then we could see their dominance in possession. We always looked dangerous, had a second good opportunity in the first half but then it was 2-1 too quick at the start of the second half.

“I’m really pleased with the energy we had, the fans at 4-1 down were very positive to the team and the subs brought a new energy and we scored a good second goal. It’s obviously not too easy to win against City. The performance in many situations was really good but when you concede four goals it’s too much and we could have defended goals two and three better.”

What’s next?

Sunday 14th April 1:00pm

Kick off 2:00pm

Crystal Palace return to Sky Sports on April 14 as they take on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Super Sunday; kick-off 2pm.

Man City are back to Champions League action on Tuesday as they travel to Real Madrid in their quarter-final first leg; kick-off 8pm.

They will continue their Premier League campaign on Saturday April 13 as they host Luton; kick-off 3pm.

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