BY SAM SMITH
A John Stones brace and two wonderful goals by Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling condemned Crystal Palace to a 4-0 defeat against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
It is the Eagles’ first defeat in Manchester in seven visits to City and their rivals Manchester United.
Roy Hodgson’s side defended well but the hosts’ onslaught, alongside Palace’s inability to get near the City goal, always made this game seem as though it was heading heading towards one result.
It was Stones who eventually opened the scoring after 26 minutes. Kevin de Bruyne’s in-perfect cross with the outside of his right foot met the head of the defender, who powered beyond Vicente Guaita.
Palace were without Wilfried Zaha, who was seemingly still suffering from a knock he took in the latter stages of the goalless draw against Arsenal on Thursday.
It further limited the South Londoners’ attacking potency. Ebere Eze’s audacious 45-yard lob dropped just over Ederson’s goal. That was a rare attempt by the visitors.
The excellent Gary Cahill and James Tomkins had limited City to few genuine sights of goal but their hard work was undone by Gundogan’s stunner 10 minutes into the second half. The German received the ball 25 yards from goal, took a touch inside from the left and wrapped an effort into the top corner.
Stones added a third 12 minutes later. Guaita had denied a header from a corner but Stones pounced to thrash home from 12 yards. His goals were his first for City in the Premier League.
Sterling added a fourth two minutes from full-time. His 20-yard free-kick was whipped right into the top corner of Guaita’s goal.
The defeat leaves the Eagles 13th at the midway point of the season.
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