John Stones
John Stones struck his first Premier League goals since scoring for Everton against Manchester United in April 2015

John Stones scored twice for Manchester City as Pep Guardiola’s resurgent title challengers cruised past Crystal Palace to go second in the Premier League.

Hours after Liverpool and leaders Manchester United shared a goalless draw, City capitalised to move within two points of top spot with their fifth successive league victory.

Stones opened the scoring with a header from Kevin de Bruyne’s delightful cross as the Belgian made it 100 assists in all competitions since joining the club in 2015.

The hosts were already in complete control when Ilkay Gundogan added a superb second from the edge of the box shortly after the break.

Stones, having previously never scored in the Premier League for City, then smashed in his second from a corner before Raheem Sterling curled in a free-kick for City’s fourth.

Guardiola’s side can go top if they win their game in hand, while defeat means Crystal Palace remain 13th.

City sparkle on eve of Pep’s big day

After this victory, Guardiola can celebrate his 50th birthday on Monday knowing his side’s title ambitions rest in their own hands.

The Catalan hits that milestone as already one of the most decorated coaches in the modern era, with two Champions League triumphs complemented by eight league titles across three countries, but a third Premier League success looked a far cry when Manchester City sat 13th after a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham in November.

Guardiola’s side are undefeated in nine league games since and have now won five in a row to accelerate within touching distance of the summit with a game in hand.

This was a performance that showcased the best City have to offer at both ends.

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola is not renowned for his defensive rigidity but his City outfit have conceded the fewest goals in the English top flight this season and this was their seventh clean sheet in the past nine games.

They had the brilliance of De Bruyne to thank for unpicking a Palace side that had set up to frustrate the hosts in the first half.

The 29-year-old’s wonderful assist, a perfectly weighted outside-of-the-boot cross, found a rising Stones for the defender to head beyond goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

That was Stones’ first Premier League goal since scoring for Everton in April 2015, and the England centre-back did not have to wait long for another as he pounced on a loose ball after the visitors failed to clear a corner in the second half.

It came after Gundogan curled in his fourth goal in the past six league games, while Sterling got in on the act late on with an excellent free-kick from the edge of the box.

More to follow.

helpHow to play

Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.

Rating range key1 = Give it up10 = Pure perfection

Manchester City

Starting XI

  1. Squad number31Player nameEderson
    Average rating

    6.87

  2. Squad number2Player nameWalker
    Average rating

    6.62

  3. Squad number5Player nameStones
    Average rating

    8.00

  4. Squad number3Player nameRúben Dias
    Average rating

    7.57

  5. Squad number11Player nameZinchenko
    Average rating

    6.84

  6. Squad number17Player nameDe Bruyne
    Average rating

    8.33

  7. Squad number25Player nameFernandinho
    Average rating

    7.24

  8. Squad number8Player nameGündogan
    Average rating

    7.72

  9. Squad number20Player nameBernardo Silva
    Average rating

    6.82

  10. Squad number9Player nameGabriel Jesus
    Average rating

    6.29

  11. Squad number7Player nameSterling
    Average rating

    7.02

Substitutes

  1. Squad number21Player nameTorres
    Average rating

    6.40

  2. Squad number27Player nameJoão Cancelo
    Average rating

    6.37

  3. Squad number47Player nameFoden
    Average rating

    6.89

Crystal Palace

Starting XI

  1. Squad number31Player nameGuaita

    Average rating

    4.30

  2. Squad number2Player nameWard

    Average rating

    4.31

  3. Squad number5Player nameTomkins

    Average rating

    4.40

  4. Squad number24Player nameCahill

    Average rating

    4.54

  5. Squad number27Player nameMitchell

    Average rating

    4.73

  6. Squad number4Player nameMilivojevic

    Average rating

    4.26

  7. Squad number10Player nameTownsend

    Average rating

    4.55

  8. Squad number22Player nameMcCarthy

    Average rating

    4.45

  9. Squad number18Player nameMcArthur

    Average rating

    4.23

  10. Squad number25Player nameEze

    Average rating

    4.68

  11. Squad number9Player nameJ Ayew

    Average rating

    4.55

Substitutes

  1. Squad number23Player nameBatshuayi

    Average rating

    4.29

  2. Squad number44Player nameRiedewald

    Average rating

    4.42

Line-ups

Man City

Formation 4-3-3

  • 31Ederson
  • 2Walker
  • 5Stones
  • 3Rúben Dias
  • 11Zinchenko
  • 17De BruyneSubstituted forCanceloat 71′minutes
  • 25Fernandinho
  • 8GündoganSubstituted forTorresat 71′minutes
  • 20Bernardo SilvaSubstituted forFodenat 60′minutes
  • 9Gabriel Jesus
  • 7Sterling

Substitutes

  • 13Steffen
  • 16Rodri
  • 21Torres
  • 22Mendy
  • 26Mahrez
  • 27Cancelo
  • 47Foden
  • 48Delap
  • 69Doyle

Crystal Palace

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 31Guaita
  • 2Ward
  • 5Tomkins
  • 24Cahill
  • 27Mitchell
  • 4MilivojevicSubstituted forRiedewaldat 68′minutes
  • 10TownsendSubstituted forBatshuayiat 79′minutes
  • 22McCarthy
  • 18McArthur
  • 25Eze
  • 9J Ayew

Substitutes

  • 1Butland
  • 3van Aanholt
  • 6Dann
  • 17Clyne
  • 20Benteke
  • 23Batshuayi
  • 44Riedewald

Referee:
Lee Mason

Match Stats

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Manchester City 4, Crystal Palace 0.

  2. Second Half ends, Manchester City 4, Crystal Palace 0.

  3. Hand ball by Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace).

  4. Phil Foden (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  5. Foul by James McArthur (Crystal Palace).

  6. Goal! Manchester City 4, Crystal Palace 0. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) from a free kick with a right footed shot to the top right corner.

  7. Ferran Torres (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  8. Foul by James McCarthy (Crystal Palace).

  9. Ferran Torres (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  10. Foul by Joel Ward (Crystal Palace).

  11. Foul by Kyle Walker (Manchester City).

  12. Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Substitution, Crystal Palace. Michy Batshuayi replaces Andros Townsend.

  14. Substitution, Manchester City. João Cancelo replaces Kevin De Bruyne.

  15. Substitution, Manchester City. Ferran Torres replaces Ilkay Gündogan.

  16. Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jairo Riedewald replaces Luka Milivojevic.

  17. Goal! Manchester City 3, Crystal Palace 0. John Stones (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner following a corner.

  18. Attempt saved. Rúben Dias (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne with a cross.

  19. Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Luka Milivojevic.

  20. Hand ball by Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace).

Banner Image Match of the DayFA Cup footer