Match ends, Manchester City 5, Crystal Palace 0.
Manchester City 5-0 Crystal Palace
Manchester City strengthened their grip on a top-four finish with a convincing win over Crystal Palace that moves them above Liverpool and into third place on goal difference.
David Silva opened the scoring inside two minutes with City's quickest goal of the season, but it took a little longer before the scoreline reflected the home side's dominance.
City could not extend their lead before the break, despite a lacklustre start from a Palace side who are not yet assured of Premier League safety.
The Eagles almost managed an unlikely equaliser with their first effort at goal when Christian Benteke's header brought a fine reaction save from Willy Caballero.
But Pep Guardiola's side made sure of the points after the break, starting when captain Vincent Kompany turned home Kevin de Bruyne's cross with a fine first-time finish into the top corner.
De Bruyne, who also grazed the bar with a free-kick, made it 3-0 with a low shot from the edge of the area that Wayne Hennessey got a hand to, but could not keep out.
Raheem Sterling added a fourth, latching on to substitute Pablo Zabaleta's clever header and smashing his shot into the bottom corner, before Nicolas Otamendi headed home De Bruyne's free-kick to complete the rout.
Goals add shine to City's victory
Guardiola said before kick-off that his side's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League rested on a run of three home games that started with the visit of the Eagles, and the manner of this victory represents the perfect start.
It was City's biggest home win since they thrashed Bournemouth 4-0 in September, back when Guardiola had a 100% winning record with City and his team were top of the table.
Those days are long gone - their title hopes were officially ended by last week's draw at Middlesbrough - but this win, which equalled their biggest of the season in all competitions, was a timely return to goalscoring form.
City are only third on goal difference but they now have a four-goal advantage on Liverpool. And their position in the top four could be strengthened further when the teams in fifth and sixth, Manchester United and Arsenal, meet at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Palace, meanwhile, will anxiously await the outcome of Hull and Swansea's home games later on Saturday.
The Eagles have a six-point cushion above the relegation zone, and a vastly superior goal difference to both of those teams even after this heavy defeat, but they may require another win to make sure of their survival.
Silva sparkles to give City a lift
On Silva's first appearance since he was injured early in City's FA Cup semi-final defeat by Arsenal, it took one minute and 54 seconds for him to show what a difference he makes to his team.
The Spaniard finished off the move that gave City the lead, but he also started it - feeding Raheem Sterling with a chipped pass, before ghosting into the area to capitalise when Martin Kelly failed to clear Sterling's cross.
That was Silva's 50th goal for City but he has played a part in many more and pulled the strings again as City threatened to take Palace apart.
His link-up play with Leroy Sane and Sterling down both flanks was the biggest reason Palace were chasing shadows for the first half hour, and more composure from his team-mates inside the area would have seen his side out of sight long before half-time.
No repeat performance from Palace
Palace had already beaten Chelsea and Liverpool away this season, and gone close to stopping Tottenham at White Hart Lane too.
But they never looked like staging a repeat performance against another team from the top four at the Etihad Stadium, where they have now lost on each of their six visits.
It was their lack of attacking threat that was the most surprising aspect of their performance, but few areas of their team emerged with any credit.
"Woeful" was the verdict of BBC Radio 5 live co-commentator Danny Mills, who also suspected at one point the Palace players had "their beach shorts and flip-flops on".
They ended up on the wrong end of their heaviest defeat of the season, conceding five goals for the first time since they lost 5-4 to Swansea in November, but it could have been far more.
Man of the match - David Silva
De Bruyne delivers - match stats
- Crystal Palace suffered their joint-biggest margin of defeat in a Premier League game (also 6-1 v Liverpool in August 1994 and 5-0 v Liverpool in November 1992).
- Kevin de Bruyne has provided a league-high 15 assists this season; no Manchester City player has registered more in a single Premier League campaign.
- Sam Allardyce has picked up just one point from his past nine top-flight visits to the Etihad.
- Since his Premier League debut in August 2010, Silva has been directly involved in 102 goals in the competition (38 goals, 64 assists), more than any other midfielder.
- Nicolas Otamendi's goal was the 400th by an Argentine in the Premier League [excluding own-goals].
"My team was unrecognisable" - manager reaction
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: "Our performance was high level. I'm pleased for our people we can finally enjoy a lot of goals here.
"Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, even Everton... it's so important to play in the Champions League. It's in our hands."
Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce told BBC Radio 5 live: "Our system did not cause us to concede today's first goal - our defender had to clear the ball and he didn't, and from it they scored. Individuals did not perform to our usual standards.
"My team was unrecognisable from what I've seen over the past two or three months - hopefully that is a one-off and the lads have got it out of their system ahead of the biggest game of the season next week at home to Hull."
City have another early kick-off next Saturday when they host Leicester at 12:30 BST, but they will be taking nothing for granted. The Foxes thrashed them 4-2 at the King Power Stadium in December and won at the Etihad Stadium on their way to winning the title last season.
Palace have the chance to end their relegation worries for good when they face the side directly below them, Hull, at Selhurst Park next Sunday (12:00).
- 4KompanyBooked at 33mins
- 42Y Touré
- 19SanéSubstituted forNavasat 84'minutes
- 17De Bruyne
- 21SilvaSubstituted forZabaletaat 68'minutes
- 33Gabriel JesusSubstituted forIheanachoat 84'minutes
- 34KellyBooked at 4minsSubstituted forDelaneyat 76'minutesBooked at 90mins
- 3van Aanholt
- 28MilivojevicBooked at 52minsSubstituted forFlaminiat 67'minutes
- 10TownsendSubstituted forLeeat 57'minutes
- Michael Oliver
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Manchester City 5, Crystal Palace 0.
Goal! Manchester City 5, Crystal Palace 0. Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne with a cross following a set piece situation.
Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card.
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace).
Foul by Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City).
Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Joel Ward.
Foul by Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Joel Ward.
Foul by Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).
Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Manchester City. Kelechi Iheanacho replaces Gabriel Jesus.
Substitution, Manchester City. Jesús Navas replaces Leroy Sané.
Attempt missed. Fernandinho (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.
Attempt blocked. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Goal! Manchester City 4, Crystal Palace 0. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Pablo Zabaleta with a headed pass.
Attempt saved. Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Fernandinho.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) because of an injury.
Foul by Leroy Sané (Manchester City).
Joel Ward (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Dangerous play by Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace).
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Damien Delaney replaces Martin Kelly.
Foul by Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City).
Lee Chung-yong (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Vincent Kompany (Manchester City).
Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Leroy Sané (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Fernandinho with a cross.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Leroy Sané.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Willy Caballero.
Attempt saved. Mathieu Flamini (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Pablo Zabaleta.
Substitution, Manchester City. Pablo Zabaleta replaces David Silva.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Mathieu Flamini replaces Luka Milivojevic.
Foul by Fernandinho (Manchester City).
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the left wing.