LONDON – A brace from Raheem Sterling allowed Manchester City's title hopefuls to stay in their hands after a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace. The English winger quickly cashed Kevin De Bruyne 's smart pass to give City 15 minutes before it made Leroy Sane' s center in the second half. But Luka Milivojevic's free-kick, nine minutes from the end of the match, focused on a tense finish before Gabriel Jesus killed the game with a late strike.
City's task is clear: keep winning and they will be crowned again as Premier League champions. It's another missed match and, despite the Palace's poor record at home, a dangerous one they will not want to lose. Between two huge Champions League games against Tottenham, City could easily have turned away from the ball, but they controlled the game in the first minute.
Injuries represent a major threat to the city's quadruple hopes and they continue to multiply. Fernandinho, a key man in midfield midfielder, has missed the trip to Selhurst Park and is also uncertain for Wednesday's UEFA Champions League return match at Etihad Stadium. Oleksandr Zinchenko was also missing. Bernardo Silva was fit enough to leave the bench, while Sterling faced many difficult challenges in the first half. With two games a week, each setback has a significant impact on a tense team.
Rating of the manager out of 10
7 – The selections of Guardiola's team in recent weeks suggest that he does not fully trust Sane and Benjamin Mendy for the big matches. But he put his trust in the pair at Selhurst Park and was rewarded with two dynamic demonstrations when he needed it. It was only when Sterling added a second goal that the manager turned to Wednesday night's game, offering a welcome rest to David Silva and a few minutes to his Portuguese namesake, Bernardo. It could have turned against the Eagles by seeming to take a point, but that's not the case.
Player's Notes (1-10; 10 = Best Players Introduced After 70 Minutes Receive No Notes)
GK Ederson, 6 years old – I had a blow to midweek defeat at Tottenham and I would be glad not to have been too wide, but I was beaten by Milivojevic's free kick.
DF Kyle Walker, age 8 –Wenfried Zaha, danger man safely chained, forced the winger to spend more time defending himself in his own half.
DF Vincent Kompany, 7 years old – First departure in six weeks and taking charge of the physical threat of his compatriot Christian Benteke.
DF Aymeric Laporte, 7 – Accurate passes started the attacks and he was solid on the defense side as well.
DF Benjamin Mendy, age 8 – Mature performance by the artist as he controlled winger Andros Townsend and advanced at every opportunity.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 7 years old – Left wide open and dictated the game as a quarter, but gave the free kick that led to the goal of Palace.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, age 8 – A driving force in the middle of the midfield and surprisingly claimed his first assist of the season in the Premier League with a superb pass for Sterling.
MF David Silva, age 7 – Derived in dangerous positions in front of the palace defense and caused them big problems with his delicate contacts.
FW Raheem Sterling, age 9 – Unusually unusual, we lost a first chance, but we made amends with a decisive opening and a crucial second.
FW Sergio Aguero, 5 years old – Buzzing around the attacks of the city, but seemed slightly late, judging badly a superb pass from De Bruyne that would have led to the goal.
FW Leroy Sane, 7 years old – A point to prove to Guardiola after recently missing big matches and having made the most of his luck against a strong back in Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
MF Bernardo Silva, 6 years old – City kept moving and in control despite the mini-return of the palace.
FW Gabriel Jesus, N / R – Has maintained his calm to hit the killer's third goal.
MF John Stones, N / R – Entered to tighten the midfield.