Man of the match – Raheem Sterling (Man City)

Raheem Sterling scored twice against Crystal Palace to inspire Manchester City to a ninth straight Premier League win after a dominant performance at Selhurst Park.

The impressive victory briefly lifted Pep Guardiola’s side, who had started the day second in the table, one point clear to the top.

However, Liverpool returned to the summit after beating Chelsea 2-0 in the late kick-off at Anfield, leaving City, who have one game in hand, two points behind the Reds with five games remaining in this fascinating title race.

Sterling opened the scoring after Kevin de Bruyne’s beautifully weighted pass saw his team-mate outsprint Patrick van Aanholt before an exquisite finish beyond Vicente Guaita.

England winger Sterling’s instinctive finish after Leroy Sane’s pass doubled the lead.

Palace, who are 11 points above the relegation zone, reduced the deficit through Luka Milivojevic’s late free-kick before substitute Gabriel Jesus made it 3-1 with a smart finish.

Palace stunned City with a 3-2 win at Etihad Stadium in December but they rarely looked like repeating such heroics in front of their own fans.

They offered very little as an attacking threat while their midfield, disrupted by the early loss to injury of Jeffrey Schlupp, found itself overpowered as Silva was repeatedly allowed space to create chances.

In addition, Christian Benteke made little impact and was unable to do his former club Liverpool a favour on his first league start for two months.

Although his side are not mathematically safe, Palace boss Roy Hodgson can start planning for a seventh successive season in the Premier League.

His side have beaten City, knocked Tottenham out of the FA Cup and held both Arsenal and Manchester United this season.

However, their home form has been a concern.

This was their ninth home league defeat – only relegated Huddersfield have a worse record in front of their own fans – and Palace will be keen to put that straight next season.

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