John Stones scored twice as Manchester City thrashed Crystal Palace 4-0, to leap up to second in the Premier League.
It was the perfect birthday present for boss Pep Guardiola who turns 50 on Monday and reaffirmed his faith in the defender. There had been whispers that Stones was on his way out of the Etihad over the summer, but he has been on fine form this season and has formed a mean partnership with Ruben Dias.
Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling also got their name on the scoresheet at the Etihad as City steamrollered a Palace side without Wilfried Zaha. Palace lacked any creativity without their inspirational talisman, and very quickly their focus was on damage limitation, although Eze did cheekily try to catch Ederson out of his goal with a chipped effort that sailed over the bar.
Kevin De Bruyne created the opener on 26 minutes, curling in a cross with the outside of his right foot which John Stones headed in for his first of the night, and also, first-ever Premier League goal for the Citizens.
Ilkay Gundogan carved out his own opportunity and curled a shot into the top corner on the 56th minute,
and 12 minutes later Stones got his second smashing in the rebound after Guaita saved from Dias. The rout was completed with just minutes left on the clock, as Sterling made up for the missed penalty against Brighton with a fine free-kick.
Crystal Palace remain in 13th, while City’s fifth successive victory in the league lifts them above champions Liverpool with a game in hand on neighbours United.