Thursday 23 November 2017

Silva shines as five-star City turn on the style to shoot down Eagles

Manchester City 5 Crystal Palace 0

Vincent Kompany, centre, celebrates his goal with his City teammates. Photo: PA Wire
Vincent Kompany, centre, celebrates his goal with his City teammates. Photo: PA Wire

Sam Wallace

If the season had gone according to Pep Guardiola's master plan then there would have been more days at the Etihad Stadium that would have looked like this, with David Silva pulling the strings and an opponent beaten with an avalanche of goals.

Silva left to a standing ovation after 67 minutes having scored the first and run the show on his return from two games away with an ankle injury. He breezed back into the side to show everyone how it was done, and the scale of the victory enabled Guardiola to make a point about the problems that have plagued his side until now.

Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City (right) clashes with Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium yesterday. Photo: Dave Thompson
Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City (right) clashes with Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium yesterday. Photo: Dave Thompson

It has been his team's finishing that had let him down so far, Guardiola said. "I can remember just one game when the other team created more chances, that was away to Tottenham," he said.

"We created more chances but in the box we are not good . . . in football, basketball, tennis, the most important thing is to do it [score]. Against Everton we lost 4-0 and they had four chances. We had more. Football at the highest level, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, they create enough chances. They have guys who score goals. We have missed that a lot this season."

For all his firmly-held beliefs in the way to play, it seems that the changeability of the English game is also something Guardiola has absorbed. He said he told his players at half-time: "If you arrive in the last 20 minutes of the team with the score just 1-0 against Crystal Palace then we don't win the game. I said to the players, 'Score a [second] goal or we don't win'."

As for Sam Allardyce, he went as far as to say that the second half, after Vincent Kompany scored a second, was, in his words "a bit of a capitulation". "For me, it is very had to take what I saw today," Allardyce said. "Lose? Yes. But lose like that? No. Unacceptable." He said that his players had managed to regroup after the first goal but when they conceded a second at the beginning of the second half they were far too open.

David Silva scored after only 114 seconds. Photo: PA Wire
David Silva scored after only 114 seconds. Photo: PA Wire

The first goal after 114 seconds was a dreadful defensive mistake for which Martin Kelly will take most of the blame but which should have been stopped earlier. Kelly had to clear Raheem Sterling's cross and the defender's weak header fell right to the feet of Silva, who volleyed one in from 10 yards. "The big, big clubs," Guardiola said, "when they are close to their opponents' box, the top players don't lose the ball.

"Maybe they dribble well, maybe badly, a good cross but they don't lose the ball. David is one of them."

There were times when City were magnificent, and not just Silva. There was Leroy Sane too, picking his way through challenges with his fast feet. Yet Palace had one good first-half chance with the score at 1-0 when Christian Benteke's header from Andros Townsend's cross was pushed around the post by Willy Caballero.

Allardyce said that his team should never have gone chasing the deficit until the late stages of the game and instead concentrated on keeping it at 1-0. Yet they made the same mistake at the start of the second half. Kelly let Kompany drift away from him, and instead marked Yaya Toure, while Kevin De Bruyne picked out his team-mate perfectly from the right and the City captain met the ball first time to score.

De Bruyne had hit the bar already from a free-kick when he scored the third. His right-foot shot from Gabriel Jesus' lay-off was close enough to Wayne Hennessey for him to save but the goalkeeper did not get a hand to it.

Sterling scored from Pablo Zabaleta's knockdown. Nicolas Otamendi's goal was a nicely-judged diving header from De Bruyne's free-kick and the home crowd saw five goals in a home league game for the first time this season.

Telegraph

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