You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Man City hold their nerve at Crystal Palace as Raheem Sterling takes a step closer to Footballer of the Year

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 15-04-2019 Simon Collings

a man throwing a ball in front of a crowd: Sterling sensational again. (Getty Images) © Provided by Local News RSS EN-GB Sterling sensational again. (Getty Images) Manchester City secured a vital win against Crystal Palace to - temporarily at least - move back to the summit of the Premier League.

Raheem Sterling struck twice before Luka Milivojević's late free kick made for a nervy finish in south east London.

Gabriel Jesus' injury time effort sealed all three points with City now hoping for a favour from Chelsea - who take on Liverpool at Anfield this afternoon.

City keep pole position in title race

Selhurst Park was famously the ground where Liverpool slipped up in their quest for the Premier League title in 2014.

a crowd of people watching a football game: City dominated at Selhurst Park. (Action Images via Reuters) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited City dominated at Selhurst Park. (Action Images via Reuters)

However, there was never any danger of Manchester City coming unstuck here as they claimed all three points. They may have lost at home to Palace earlier in the season, but this was a much more comfortable afternoon’s work.

City controlled the game from the off and, after a brace from Raheem Sterling, only Luka Milivojevic's late free-kick caused any signs of nerves. Other than that, Pep Guardiola’s side did not have to get out of third gear but they will not want to take their foot off the gas as they push for the title.

This win was crucial, however, as City’s future remains in their hands. The maths is simple: win all five of their final Premier League games and the title is heading back to the Etihad.

Sterling strengthens case to be Football of the Year

The destination of the Premier League title may still be unknown, but the awards for Football of the Year look to be shifting ever closer to Raheem Sterling.

Both the Football Writers' Association and the PFA will crown their players of the year in the coming weeks and Sterling is in the driving seat to win both. Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is another contender, but the Dutchman has already revealed how he has voted for Sterling for the PFA gong and you suspect many others will too.

Football gossip round-up: Rivals interested in Alderweireld? [Read Sport]

The England forward was in fine form again here against Palace, scoring in either half to ensure City claimed all three points. They were Sterling’s 26th and 27th goals for club and country this season, and further underlined his status as one of the world’s best players right now.

Christian Benteke fails to take chance on rare start

Before Sunday, you had to go all the way back to February 9 to find the last time Christian Benteke started a Premier League match for Crystal Palace.

a man holding a football ball: Benteke failed to make an impact. (AFP/Getty Images) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Benteke failed to make an impact. (AFP/Getty Images)

Since then, he has had to settle for a role coming off the bench as Roy Hodgson has preferred to start with on-loan Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi.

However, against City, Benteke was given the chance to shine from the start. The Belgian did not take his opportunity, though, and he was one of a number of Palace players who failed to make an impact.

Benteke has not scored all season and he looked short on confidence as he toiled away against City’s defence. Come the summer, the striker will have one year left on his contract and you suspect the next transfer window will be decisive for his future.

Crystal Palace’s home woes continue

It is not uncommon for teams to be ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ when it comes to the difference between their form at home compared to on the road. Indeed, Arsenal are a prime example of a team who are brilliant at home but struggle when playing away.

a group of men playing a game of football: (AFP/Getty Images) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (AFP/Getty Images)

For Palace, it is very much the opposite and this loss to City continued their troubles at home. They have won just four Premier League matches at Selhurst Park this season and only Huddersfield Town have a worse home record than them.

Contrast that with the Eagles’ away form, which is the seventh best in the League and they have earned 23 of their 40 points on the road. Correcting Palace’s home form will be a priority for manager Roy Hodgson next season.

More from Evening Standard

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon