Dazzling De Bruyne helps Manchester City sink Crystal Palace after early scare

De Bruyne

Just when Manchester City are creaking, they find a way. It helps, of course, to have Kevin De Bruyne around. His 99th goal for the club wrenched City back level just when it seemed Crystal Palace had the tools to take down the champions. And after a first half of frustration, having Jack Grealish around to play a key role in goals from Rico Lewis and Erling Haaland before De Bruyne completed his century was also more than handy.

City’s victory did not quite fit the template of winning while playing badly; this was more a game of two halves. Their second period was full of control, poise and deadly finishing. Over then to Liverpool and Arsenal to play their hands in the three-way game of who blinks first.

The restoration to the starting lineup of Haaland and De Bruyne, both short of sharpness, had been made with Tuesday at Real Madrid in mind. So, presumably, was benching Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden, the latter rested despite his hat-trick heroics against Aston Villa. Against opponents who have regularly troubled him, Pep Guardiola eventually reaped the benefits of restoring two of his franchise players. Haaland, from close range, scored his first goal in more than a month.

The excitement in Oliver Glasner’s selection came in the reappearance of Michael Olise on the bench. Palace have won only one game since his February injury. He arrived to applause with 15 minutes to play just as Rodri, improved after an uncharacteristically dodgy first half, was withdrawn, the anchorman’s exit a symbol that even Guardiola’s anxieties had abated. When Odsonne Édouard knocked in Jeffrey Schlupp’s cross with five minutes to play, there was little panic from the visitors, though Olise later whipping a trademark shot across Stefan Ortega’s goal suggested there might yet be life in the game.

source – Dazzling De Bruyne helps Manchester City sink Crystal Palace after early scare | Premier League | The Guardian