Belfast Telegraph

Pep hails City's winning mentality after latest test of title credentials

Crystal Palace 1-3 Manchester City

Winning ways: Pep Guardiola celebrates with Benjamin Mendy
Winning ways: Pep Guardiola celebrates with Benjamin Mendy

By Andy Sims

Pep Guardiola felt Manchester City passed the latest test of their title credentials with flying colours in the 3-1 win at Crystal Palace.

Selhurst Park has been a graveyard for title campaigns in the recent past, notably when Liverpool's wheels came off in 2014 and City suffered a similar fate a year later.

But Raheem Sterling's double and a late third from Gabriel Jesus kept City's bid to retain their crown firmly on track.

"I'm so pleased," said Guardiola. "The amount of games we have had - Brighton, and three days later the Champions League, and now here, and the way we played for 75 or 80 minutes was really good.

"The Premier League position is in our hands and we want to win all the games.

"The players showed me they would do it and I didn't have any doubts about that.

"In two seasons we've got 83 points with five games left. Incredible numbers and it shows how consistent we are."

Sterling should have fired them ahead early on only to sidefoot wide from six yards out after David Silva had cut the ball back from the byline.

But the England forward made no mistake when presented with his next opportunity, in the 15th minute, after Kevin De Bruyne's through-ball dissected the Palace defence.

Sterling rolled in a second just after the hour mark from Leroy Sane's cross to take his tally for the season to 21.

Luka Milivojevic gave Palace hope with a free-kick nine minutes from time, but substitute Jesus wrapped a ninth straight win for City in stoppage time.

"The most important action in our game is the next one," added Guardiola. "Sometimes you miss, you have to forget it and so Raheem made an incredible finish from an outstanding pass from Kevin. It's important how you react. That's why he helped us win the game."

City host Tottenham on Wednesday looking to overturn the first-leg deficit in their Champions League quarter-final and keep their quadruple dream alive.

Palace boss Roy Hodgson has no doubt they can pull off an unprecedented four-trophy haul.

"I think they look in very good shape," he said. "They came here with a fully fit squad and they paid us the respect of putting a very strong team out. That doesn't make the task any easier.

"I can only say what everyone else knows. They are a very good team and will take some beating in any competition they play.

"You do your very best, but it's difficult to get the balance right, to make sure you don't get torn apart tactically, but to put them under enough pressure to concern them.

"You can complain about various aspects of your own play, but the bottom line is, if they hadn't scored the goals in the way they did, they'd have scored them another way."

PALACE: Guaita, Wan Bissaka, Kelly, Dann, Van Aanholt, Townsend (Meyer, 77 mins), McArthur (Sako, 85 mins), Milivojevic, Schlupp (Kouyate, 22 mins), Zaha, Benteke. Unused subs: Ward, Hennessey, Ayew, Batshuayi.

Man City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Sterling, Silva (Bernardo Silva, 65 mins), Sane (Stones, 87 mins), Aguero (Jesus, 75 mins). Unused subs: Danilo, Mahrez, Otamendi, Muric.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Man of the match: Raheem Sterling

Match rating: 7/10

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