Football, Premier League

Crystal Palace vs Man City: De Bruyne double helps city survive early scare

The Premier League’s reigning champions defeated Crystal Palace 4-2 on Saturday, thanks to a fantastic double from Kevin De Bruyne, which included his 100th goal for Manchester City. This victory put them one point behind Arsenal at the top of the league.

After a mistake by John Stones allowed Jean-Philippe Mateta to put Palace ahead, more careless passes from Rodri resulted in Jordan Ayew hitting the crossbar, and Stefan Ortega had to make a Cruyff turn in his own six-yard box to stop Mateta from adding another, it was far from easy sailing for a wobbly City in the first half in south London.

However, De Bruyne, who was back, curled in a spectacular equaliser, and Rico Lewis gave City the lead two minutes into the second half, which their possession and opportunity creation in the opening 45 minutes justified.

Erling Haaland, like De Bruyne, was brought back into City’s starting lineup on Saturday. Following a scoreless first half in which he saw only seven touches, the striker will have been happy to head in a cross from the Belgian to snap a five-game goalless streak for both club and country.

Following a Rodri lay-off, De Bruyne scored his landmark goal to put City comfortably ahead. However, Odsonne Edouard’s late goal came after Ruben Dias had cleared another of his attempts off the line minutes earlier.

However, with goals from De Bruyne and Haaland and an afternoon off for Phil Foden following his hat-trick on Thursday, City’s main players appear ready for their crucial Champions League quarterfinal away day against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Palace, however, has only won one of their last eight games. With seven games remaining, they are eight points clear of the relegation zone.

Man City boss Pep Guardiola: “We were not solid like normally we are. Three days, three days, the mental energy we wasted [with lots of games is] more than the physical. It’s tremendous. That’s why sometimes that happens.

“Today Kevin, without him we wouldn’t be able to win. We can talk about tactics but give me players like Kevin!

“It was five months out. He’s had good moments in games back. After that he was not maybe his best, that’s normal. A really, really special talent.

“He is mentally fresh, for sure. I listen to him on the bus, in the locker toom, train station, laughing. The body language is how he is. All the players but especially Kevin. Ten years in Man City, the consistency has been amazing. One of the best players in all our history of Man City. The first goal is unbelievable, the fourth is unbelievable.”

Crystal Palace boss Oliver Glasner: “When we lose 4-2 I’m never satisfied but there were many positives in our game. We scored an excellent first goal. Their equaliser was too fast and then we could see their dominance in possession. We always looked dangerous, had a second good opportunity in the first half but then it was 2-1 too quick at the start of the second half.

“I’m really pleased with the energy we had, the fans at 4-1 down were very positive to the team and the subs brought a new energy and we scored a good second goal. It’s obviously not too easy to win against City. The performance in many situations was really good but when you concede four goals it’s too much and we could have defended goals two and three better.”

On April 14, Crystal Palace will make their comeback to face Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Super Sunday.

Tuesday marks Man City’s return to Champions League action as they play the opening leg of their quarterfinal against Real Madrid.

They will host Luton on Saturday, April 13, to resume their Premier League season.

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