Man City produced a personal goal of the season competition in sweeping aside Palace, with a double from John Stones as well as goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling contributing to a conclusive victory.
In truth, the game was over the moment Gundogan’s strike found the net, with Palace spending 92 minutes with 11 men behind the ball in a very slightly negative setup.
The first half was utterly unremarkable, with Palace’s double-decker bus parked in front of their goal resulting in a tepid affair. Unremarkable, that is, but for a moment of sheer brilliance from the Premier League’s best player, Kevin de Bruyne.
When his corner was played back to him by Sterling, Palace’s covering duo thought they were close enough to prevent a dangerous delivery. Wrong. This is Kevin de Bruyne we are talking about.
With the outside of his right boot, the Belgian swerved the ball onto the head of Stones to nod in a header, and give City a halftime lead their dominance, if not chance creativity, deserved.
It was his 100th assist for City and, even for him, it was a special piece of play.
Half time: Manchester City 1-0 Crystal Palace
The second half started off identically to the first, with Palace camped inside their area. It was perhaps fitting then, that once again a remarkable piece of ability would see City into a two goal cushion.
Another de Bruyne corner was half cleared, this time to Andros Townsend at the edge of the box. The winger failed to control the ball, however, allowing Gundogan to take it off him, cut inside, and then bend a beauty into Vicente Guaita’s top corner.
Although the Spaniard got fingertips to the ball, there was no stopping the power and precision of the strike. The goal seemed to affect both sides, with City now confident of pressing on for more and Palace wearing the look of a team who knew the game was done.
Virtually from the kick-off, Guaita was tackled by Gabriel Jesus after dallying on the ball, with James Tomkins just getting to the loose ball before Sterling. Shortly after, de Bruyne curled just wide from the edge of the box, with City hunting the third.
It did not take much longer to arrive.
In the 68th minute, de Bruyne was once again over a corner. Ruben Dias powerfully headed downwards, with Guaita saving well with his legs and the ball breaking loose. First to react was Stones, picking up his second of the night with a powerful low finish on his left foot, and showing predatory insight a certain Argentinian striker is well known for at the Etihad.
The game seemed to be settled, with both sides making several changes, but a clever pass by Phil Foden to Ferran Torres saw the Spaniard bundled over by James McArthur right on the edge of the box. Sterling took the ball.
Sterling, belying his horrendous penalty miss only days ago, decided to smack the ball into the top corner in virtually the same spot Gundogan had found only half an hour previously. It was a wonderful goal, and one which makes you wonder just how he is so bad at penalties.
The whistle went with City up to 2nd in the league for the first time this season, while Palace remain well clear of danger in 13th. If City win their game in hand against Aston Villa, they will go to the top of the league.
Fair to say that after the debacle at home to West Brom, this was unexpected.
Full time: Manchester City 4-0 Crystal Palace
Man of the Match: John Stones
Kevin de Bruyne was incredible (shock), but Stones deserves it for getting his first Premier League goals for City, and keeping yet another clean sheet alongside the rock solid Dias. Titles are won in defence, and City seem to finally have that sorted.