Goals from Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Yaya Toure secured Manchester City's passage in the fifth round of the FA Cup at the expense of last year's finalists Crystal Palace.
It was a terrific performance from City as they turned on the style, as for Palace it was another disappointing day.
Admittedly Palace have bigger worries at the moment; their league form is of concern and with two big games coming up in the shape of AFC Bournemouth and Sunderland anything against Pep Guardiola's side was going to be a bonus.
As for Manchester City it was another free-flowing performance, and with their passage secured they can look forward with confidence.
City’s pretty football eventually told as Sterling opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time
It was a lively start from Manchester City; with the likes of David Silva, Toure, and Sterling all starting it was clear Guardiola’s side were coming to South London aiming to get the victory that would see them through to the fifth round.
There first real chance of the game fell to the Spaniard Silva. It was lovely possession play from City; Toure who scored both the goals in a 2-1 win in the Premier League game at Selhurst Park earlier in the season lofted through a perfect ball for Silva, but the 30-year-old’s effort from inside the box was saved well by Wayne Hennessey in Crystal Palace’s goal.
Joe Ledley, Mathieu Flamini, and Jordan Mutch were all struggling with the fluency of City’s midfield, and for much of the opening 15 minutes Sam Allardyce’s side were camped in their own half. But a rare foray forward from Mutch nearly resulted in a promising moment for the Eagles, but his ball towards Christian Benteke was cut out well by Vincent Kompany.
For all City’s dominant possession; Guardiola’s side were not creating too many clear-cut chances against a dogged Palace rearguard, and as the half wore on Palace certainly grew into the game. But like City, the end product for Allardyce’s side was lacking.
Toure who always seems to be in the thick of the action when he comes to Selhurst; although he was orchestrating most things good for City in the middle of the park, he picked up a silly yellow card on the half hour mark for dissent. Then shortly after he was involved in an incident with Mutch which could have seen him receive his marching orders but referee Michael Jones opted against sending Toure off much to the annoyance of the Selhurst Park faithful.
The game really exploded into life in the latter stages of the half as Palace came into the game. From an Andros Townsend free-kick, James Tomkins had an effort well saved by Willy Caballero. Shortly after, Jeffrey Schlupp threatened to burst clear of the City defence but Sterling dragged the former Leicester City man down rather cynically as it started to look promising for Schlupp and company.
Just as Palace were creating a few inroads, a slick City move opened the scoring as Sterling calmly slotted beyond Hennessey to make it 1-0. It was the debutant Gabriel Jesus that created the goal; he expertly got away from a couple of Palace defenders and fed Sterling, and City’s flying winger done the rest to put City one foot in the fifth round.
Toure and Sane put the gloss on a fine City performance
Allardyce threw on Loic Remy for Benteke in the search for an equaliser, and the Frenchman had a big impact in the opening minutes of the second period; if a cross from Chung Yong Lee was a little lower Remy might have found the net from an awkward volley. But with the ball a little too high he could only direct his effort over the bar.
It was certainly a much tighter affair in the second-half; the introduction of Remy gave Palace a different dimension up-front, and Just as rain and hail soaked Selhurst, it was Ledley who flashed an effort just wide of Caballero’s goal just before the hour mark as Palace went in search of an equaliser.
But as Palace pressed for that elusive equaliser they were punished as City pounced to make it 2-0.
It was another slick goal from City; they crowded out Palace’s substitute James McArthur just on the edge of their own box. Silva then broke forward deep into Palace territory and slipped a delightful ball through for Leroy Sane who calmly stroked beyond Hennessey to all but secure City’s passage into the fifth round with 20 minutes remaining.
Worringly for Palace, their recent signing Schlupp departed the field with what looked to be a hamstring injury, and as the game was petering out to a conclusion Toure scored a sublime free-kick just from the edge of Palace's box to put the gloss on a fine performance for City.