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.
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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.
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- Man CityManchester CityManchester CityCrystal PalaceCrystal PalaceCrystal Palace
Manchester CityStarting XIAvgSquad number31Player nameEdersonAverage rating
12345678910Squad number2Player nameWalkerAverage rating
12345678910Squad number5Player nameStonesAverage rating
12345678910Squad number3Player nameRúben DiasAverage rating
12345678910Squad number11Player nameZinchenkoAverage rating
12345678910Squad number17Player nameDe BruyneAverage rating
12345678910Squad number25Player nameFernandinhoAverage rating
12345678910Squad number8Player nameGündoganAverage rating
12345678910Squad number20Player nameBernardo SilvaAverage rating
12345678910Squad number9Player nameGabriel JesusAverage rating
12345678910Squad number7Player nameSterlingAverage rating
12345678910SubstitutesAvgSquad number21Player nameTorresAverage rating
12345678910Squad number27Player nameJoão CanceloAverage rating
12345678910Squad number47Player nameFodenAverage rating
12345678910Share your Man City player ratings withFacebookTwitterWhatsAppCopy and share linkCrystal PalaceStarting XIAvgSquad number31Player nameGuaitaAverage rating
12345678910Squad number2Player nameWardAverage rating
12345678910Squad number5Player nameTomkinsAverage rating
12345678910Squad number24Player nameCahillAverage rating
12345678910Squad number27Player nameMitchellAverage rating
12345678910Squad number4Player nameMilivojevicAverage rating
12345678910Squad number10Player nameTownsendAverage rating
12345678910Squad number22Player nameMcCarthyAverage rating
12345678910Squad number18Player nameMcArthurAverage rating
12345678910Squad number25Player nameEzeAverage rating
12345678910Squad number9Player nameJ AyewAverage rating
12345678910SubstitutesAvgSquad number23Player nameBatshuayiAverage rating
12345678910Squad number44Player nameRiedewaldAverage rating
12345678910Share your Crystal Palace player ratings withFacebookTwitterWhatsAppCopy and share link
- Line-upsMatch StatsLive Text
31Ederson2Walker5Stones3Rúben Dias11Zinchenko17De Bruyne25Fernandinho8Gündogan20Bernardo Silva9Gabriel Jesus7Sterling
- 31Ederson2Walker5Stones3Rúben Dias11Zinchenko17De BruyneSubstituted forCanceloat 71'minutes25Fernandinho8GündoganSubstituted forTorresat 71'minutes20Bernardo SilvaSubstituted forFodenat 60'minutes9Gabriel Jesus7Sterling
- 31Guaita2Ward5Tomkins24Cahill27Mitchell4MilivojevicSubstituted forRiedewaldat 68'minutes10TownsendSubstituted forBatshuayiat 79'minutes22McCarthy18McArthur25Eze9J Ayew
- 1Butland3van Aanholt6Dann17Clyne20Benteke23Batshuayi44Riedewald
Referee:Lee MasonMatch StatsHome TeamMan CityAway TeamCrystal PalacePossessionHome73%Away27%ShotsHome13Away2Shots on TargetHome6Away0CornersHome11Away1FoulsHome9Away8Live TextPost update
Match ends, Manchester City 4, Crystal Palace 0.
Second Half ends, Manchester City 4, Crystal Palace 0.
Hand ball by Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace).
Phil Foden (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by James McArthur (Crystal Palace).
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.
Ferran Torres (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by James McCarthy (Crystal Palace).
Ferran Torres (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Joel Ward (Crystal Palace).
Foul by Kyle Walker (Manchester City).
Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Michy Batshuayi replaces Andros Townsend.
Substitution, Manchester City. João Cancelo replaces Kevin De Bruyne.
Substitution, Manchester City. Ferran Torres replaces Ilkay Gündogan.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jairo Riedewald replaces Luka Milivojevic.
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.
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.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Luka Milivojevic.
Hand ball by Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace).
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