When the Manchester City lineup came out for the FA Cup fourth round match against Crystal Palace, two names were happy surprises: Vincent Kompany and Gabriel Jesus. It was clear that both should start against the Eagles, and both did. The questions were simple: how will Kompany cope with anothe return from injury? How will Jesus cope with his full debut for the club?
From the jump, we got positive answers to all of our doubts. Kompany looked strong, moved well and passed the ball out of the back like he'd never been injured before. Jesus was not shy, kept moving all around the attacking half looking to get involved in the action and also open spaces for others. Both players looked sharp and it was clear they'd have good performances.
Yaya Touré and David Silva were the stars, though. They started together alongside Fabian Delph in midfield, and this trio ran the show. Yaya is really a holding midfielder now, and he looked great again, just like he did against Tottenham, pinging the ball around and finding holes in the Palace defense. His passing work created fantastic chances for Leroy Sané and Silva in the first 10 minutes, but both players failed to hit the target and put City ahead.
The dominance from the visitors continued for about 20 minutes, but in the half-hour mark the game changed a little bit. Palace began to go forward, getting some yards like they were in an NFL game and slowly beginning to show Willy Caballero that he would need to work to keep a clean sheet. James Tomkins had Palace's best chance of the first half, but Caballero made a beautiful save.
After about ten shaky minutes, City regained control, and Gabriel Jesus happened. The Brazilian played a beautiful through ball to Raheem Sterling, who found himself alone in front of keeper Wayne Hennessey and slotted the ball home for the opening goal. Seconds after the goal, it was Sterling who put Jesus in great position to score, but the Brazilian's shot was stopped by Hennessey then deflected away for a corner.
At halftime, City in front. A deserved lead that needed to increase in order to confirm the victory.
Second half starts, and Palace come forward looking for a goal. Loic Remy almost scored the equalizer after just four minutes when he met a cross first time and hit the crossbar, but City were not going to concede on the day. The visitors took the ball and kept it for long periods of the second half, not giving the Eagles any chance to bring more danger to Caballero outside of a few tricky set pieces.
City looked great going forward, and David Silva made sure to finish the tie with a beautiful run through the middle and perfect through ball to Leroy Sané, who easily beat Hennessey for the second goal. City's second destroyed Palace's confidence, and the hosts couldn't do anything to get a goal back. Gabriel Jesus wreaked havoc in the Palace defense, constantly dribbling players and getting fouled. On the last action of the game, Jesus was fouled and Yaya Touré took the free kick. Perfectly. Right into the top corner, far away from Hennessey's hands, to kill off the tie for good and give City a classic 3-0 scoreline to send the happy City fans home even happier.
Up next, a trip to London Stadium and a key Premier League match against an in-form West Ham United team. Last time City faced West Ham at London Stadium? A 5-0 win earlier this month in the FA Cup.
A repeat of that wouldn't be bad.
Palace: Hennessey; Ward, Kelly, Tomkins, Schlupp (Fryers); Flamini, Ledley, Mutch (McArthur), Lee; Townsend, Benteke (Remy)
Man City: Caballero; Sagna, Kompany, Kolarov, Clichy; Touré, Delph; Sané (Nolito), Silva (Fernando), Sterling (Navas); Gabriel Jesus
Goals: Sterling (43'), Sané (70'), Touré (90+2')