For the second season in a row, Palace suffered a heavy defeat against a slick Manchester City side at the Etihad Stadium on a disappointing afternoon for the Eagles.
Early goals at the start of both halves by David Silva and Vincent Kompany were added to by Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Otamendi as Palace suffered their biggest defeat of the season against a hungry City outfit.
However they will now look toward next weekend’s visit of Hull City to Selhurst Park as a massive game that could seal their Premier League status for 2017/18, with their patched-up defence battling against the odds to cope with their opponents’ star-studded attack throughout the 90 minutes in Manchester.
A good start was vital for Sam Allardyce’s side, but those hopes were dashed after just 114 seconds via one of their nemeses in recent encounters against City. Leroy Sane started the move on the right and found Silva, who clipped the ball into the area where Sterling hooked it back from the byline. Martin Kelly attempted to head it clear, but only found Silva who swept home the game’s first chance to score his fourth goal in his last five games against Palace.
Pep Guardiola’s men dominated the first 30 minutes and De Bruyne and Sane fired into the stands before the latter nearly grabbed a second when he dribbled 40 yards before letting fly just inside the box, and after Wayne Hennessey had pushed away his drive, Patrick van Aanholt was well-placed to clear when Sterling sniffed netting the rebound.
Opportunities to advance into the final third were few and far between for the visitors up to this point, but they gradually grew into the game and enjoyed a flurry of chances within a three-minute spell. Firstly, Wilfried Zaha saw a shot blocked by Kompany, and then Christian Benteke rose highest to meet an Andros Townsend cross but Willy Cabellero made a fine reaction save to claw it away from his line and the lurking James McArthur, before Jason Puncheon blazed over.
Then a deflected long-ranger by Luka Milivojevic fell nicely into the path of Van Aanholt but again he failed to hit the target as Allardyce’s side enjoyed some pressure, and went into the break buoyed despite finding themselves a goal down.
However that all changed three minutes after the restart as City once again burst out of the traps at the start of a half. After winning a corner, the initial danger was only cleared to Silva who moved possession onto De Bruyne, and he picked out an undetected Kompany who produced a fine, first-time finish to beat Hennessey and give Palace a mountain to climb to get anything out of their afternoon.
City were purring when De Bruyne whipped a free-kick over the wall and saw it thud off the top of the woodwork, and then he threaded in Sane to go one-one-one with Hennessey but the Welshman made a good stop to deny the German, with De Bruyne screwing the rebound well wide.
He looked destined to get on the scoresheet, and just before the hour mark that was exactly what happened as the result was put beyond doubt. Silva flicked a header onto Jesus, who laid the ball into the winger’s path, and he caressed it towards the bottom corner. Despite getting a hand to the attempt, Hennessey couldn’t prevent it finding its intended destination and making it 3-0.
In an attempt to reduce the deficit, substitute Mathieu Flamini sent Caballero back-peddling to push over a deflected drive, but with nine minutes to go Guardiola’s team added a fourth. With Palace temporarily down to 10 men with Ward off the field receiving treatment for a broken nose, Yaya Toure played a raking ball out to the right flank for Pablo Zabaleta, and with the Palace defence stretched he found Sterling in space to slide the ball into the net.
And in injury-time, further salt was rubbed into the wound when De Bruyne delivered a delicious free-kick into the box that was begging to be dispatched, and Otamendi obliged by flying in and converting a diving header to condemn Palace to their biggest Premier League loss since August 1994.
Manchester City: Caballero, Fernandinho, Kompany, Otamendi, Clichy, Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Silva (Zabaleta 67), Sane (Navas 84), Jesus. Subs not used: Gunn, Sagna, Kolarov, Fernando, Iheanacho.
Palace: Hennessey, Townsend (Lee 57), Ward, Kelly (Delaney 76), Schlupp, Van Aanholt, McArthur, Milivojevic (Flamini 67), Puncheon, Zaha, C. Benteke. Subs not used: Speroni, Sako, Campbell, Remy.