Manchester City produced a dominant display and survived a late scare to earn a 3-1 victory away to Crystal Palace to take Pep Guardiola's side back to the top of the Premier League table on Sunday.
Having missed a glaring opportunity early on, Raheem Sterling made amends shortly after as he broke clear of the Palace backline, received an exquisite pass from Kevin De Bruyne. and fired an emphatic finish into the roof of the net to hand City the lead on the quarter of an hour mark at Selhurst Park
City maintained their dominance in the second half and ensured that their control over proceedings told on the scoreline, as Sterling arrived in the box to fire home a cross from Leroy Sane to double the visitors' lead just after the hour mark.
Palace threatened to put a sting in the tale as Luka Milivojevic curled home a free-kick from the edge of the box after Ilkay Gundogan committed a sloppy foul on James McArthur with ten minutes remaining, but City added a third late on through Gabriel Jesus to seal the victory.
Key Talking Point
Palace typically impose a physical dominance on visitors at Selhurst Park and raise an intensity which is matched by their home supporters to make the ground an intimidating place to visit.
However, the Eagles opted instead to sit deep and attempt to form a road block to stifle the rampant champions on Sunday, leaving Christian Benteke as an isolated lone front man with insufficient support to get Roy Hodgson's side moving forward.
#CrystalPalace goalie kneels down to allow Sterling to score..— Des (@Gingerarse) April 14, 2019
Business as usual..
Wow #CrystalPalace defending like they’re being paid to let City through. They’re inches in front of city players with the ball and won’t make a challenge. Jogging to track back. Absolutely shocking stuff. #givemeyourjob— The Diego (@diegomarrajuana) April 14, 2019
It’s never going to be easy vs City, but we ain’t helping ourselves by playing like this... stray passes, losing the ball in our own half, no intensity, we’re lucky be just 1-0 down. BETTER SECOND HALF PLEASE #CPFC— PalaceEagles.com (@PalaceEaglesc0m) April 14, 2019
Wilfired Zaha and Andros Townsend rarely managed to display their electric pace to get down the sides of City's defence, as the visitors' dominance in possession and offensive approach kept Palace pinned back and offered them little chance to break out of their defensive mould.
The task was always going to be a difficult one for Palace in attempting to impose their game on a City side which is gunning to retain their title, but the unusual lack of atmosphere inside Selhurst Park was emblematic of a flat performance from the Eagles.
Starting XI: Guaita (5); Wan-Bissaka (6), Kelly (6), Dann (6), Van Aanholt (5); Townsend (5), McArthur (7), Milivojevic (7) Schlupp (N/A), Zaha (6); Benteke (5)
Substitutes: Kouyate (6), Meyer (5), Sako (N/A)
STAR MAN - Palace turned in a largely flat display and only threatened City in the final ten minutes, but Luka Milivojevic stuck to his usual task of holding the Eagles' midfield together and scored late on to make Guardiola's side sweat momentarily late on.
Key Talking Point
With City under pressure to earn a victory at Selhurst Park which would see them move above Liverpool at the top of the league ahead of the Reds' clash with Chelsea later on Sunday, Pep Guardiola's side did not buckle under the pressure.
Jurgen Klopp's side have shown erratic tendencies and often dipped below their usual level in recent games as the pressure of the title race begins to tell on them, but City have shown the mettle of champions in continuing to play their own game, regardless of the pressure.
A trip to Selhust Park typically provides a test of huge physical demands and intensity, but City took the game by the scruff of the neck and managed proceedings on their own terms. The champions dominated possession and kept Palace largely penned back in their own half.
Victory moved the Citizens just a point clear of Liverpool ahead of the Reds' game later in the day, but City appear the far less likely of the two teams to succumb to the pressure of the title race based on Sunday's display.
Starting XI: Ederson (6); Walker (7), Kompany (7), Laporte (7), Mendy (7); De Bruyne (8), Gundogan (7), D. Silva (7); Sterling (8*), Aguero (7), Sane (7)
Substitutes: B. Silva (6), Jesus (7), Stones (N/A)
STAR MAN - City turned in an accomplished performance to a man at Selhurst Park, but it was Raheem Sterling's 16th and 17th Premier League goals of the season which ensured that the visitors' dominance counted on the scoreline.
Raheem Sterling deserves the EPL player of season award #CRYMCI— Dio Peter Omotolani (@dinhoptarh) April 14, 2019
Raheem Sterling stealing the title away from Liverpool. Their fans are crying right now, great to watch.— Devils of United (@DevilsOfUnited) April 14, 2019
The midfield trio of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan were brilliant in controlling the game and feeding the front men, but it was Sterling's eye for telling contributions in big games that provided the cutting edge and made the difference for Pep Guardiola's side.
Crystal Palace face another next Sunday as they travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal in a London derby.
Meanwhile, City will look to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg of their Champions League quarter final clash against Tottenham on Wednesday, before returning to Premier League action at home to Mauricio Pochettino's side once again just three days later.