Manchester City made light work of Crystal Palace on Saturday evening as goals from Gabriel Jesus and David Silva ensured the Premier League champions won at Selhurst Park to cut the gap between themselves and leaders Liverpool to five points.
Palace were initially stingy in defence as City struggled for the breakthrough, but two strikes in the space of three first-half minutes put the game to bed for Pep Guardiola's side.
Jesus stooped to nod in Bernardo Silva's cross for the opener, before David Silva volleyed in from Raheem Sterling's clever scoop. Palace struggled to create clear chances throughout the game, with City keeper Ederson largely untested until the latter stages of the game.
Key Talking Point
Palace came into the game sat inside the top six, but perhaps with a degree of acknowledgement – from their fans especially – that they may not be in that position in a month or so, with games against Arsenal, Leicester, Chelsea and Liverpool on the horizon.
But they showed during most of the first half on Saturday that they had enough to box with the top sides in the Premier League - or at least duck and weave enough not to get hit by a knockout blow too early.
However when that first blow did come, courtesy of Gabriel Jesus' header, it seemed like a case of by how many the visitors would win by, especially when the Eagles' dejection at conceding the first goal was compounded by a quick second from City.
Palace did exploit City's lack of proper central defenders with a few chances later in the game, but by then the damage had already been done.
Starting XI: Hennessey (8*); Ward (5), Tomkins (4), Cahill (4), Van Aanholt (5); Zaha (5), Kouyate (5) Milivojevic (5), McArthur (6), Schlupp (5); Ayew (5).
Substitutes: Townsend (5), Benteke (5), Dann (N/A).
STAR PLAYER - It's never a good sign when your best player in a defeat is the goalkeeper, but Wayne Hennessey made a number of saves to ensure the scoreline remained somewhat respectable.
The Wales international showed good anticipation to deny Jesus, while a flicked stop to repel Bernardo Silva was probably even better.
Wayne Hennessey is top notch today , producing saves after saves.— EA (@SirAndrewBill) October 19, 2019
Key Talking Point
At this juncture, the need to talk about Pep Guardiola fielding an XI without a centre-back by trade is overwhelming. So that's what we're going to do.
Both Rodri and Fernandinho have terrific passing abilities and the latter even showed a surprising amount of pace when asked to mop up loose balls - a task made tougher by tenacious lurker Wilfried Zaha, who failed to make the most of a few mismatches on the counter attack in the first half.
But, thankfully for Guardiola, City's attackers ensured it was business as usual for the Premier League champions, scoring two quickfire goals to effectively take the game away from Palace by the 41st minute, even though the hosts had performed admirably in repelling anything that came their way before that point.
STAR PLAYER - Eyebrows were raised far and wide when it was announced Sergio Aguero would not start the game, but his replacement Jesus was electric throughout.
He ran Palace centre-backs James Tomkins and Gary Cahill ragged and was unlucky not to grab another goal in the second half as he was denied by an impressive Hennessey save.
His performance highlights the strength in depth Guardiola has in some areas of his squad, even if he is on thin on central defenders.
Jesus did opt to go for goal instead of squaring for Kevin de Bruyne for what would have been a certain third goal, but hey, we've all done that.
Gabriel jesus has been excellent, I really hope he gets his chances this season. He deserves to be starting.— Zina (@OIeksZinchenko) October 19, 2019
50 goals for City at 22 years of age for Gabriel Jesus, ffs this kid is brazy— Joosep (@js10mcfc) October 19, 2019
Things don't get much easier for Palace. They travel across London to face Arsenal at the Emirates next week, before they host Leicester at Selhurst Park.
City have four home games on the trot to look forward to. A Champions League clash with Atalanta on Tuesday is up next, before Aston Villa roll into town. They then face Southampton twice in the space of five days, firstly in the Carabao Cup and then in the Premier League.