Sergio Aguero scored twice as Manchester City beat Crystal Palace 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium to, at least temporarily, move top of the Premier League.
City dropped points in midweek when they were held to a goalless draw by Everton, but Manuel Pellegrini’s side suffered no such problems in finding a breakthrough against Palace.
Fabian Delph put the hosts ahead in the 22nd minute with a long-range effort which Wayne Hennessey ought to have saved, but there was little the Eagles goalkeeper could do to stop Aguero making it 2-0 five minutes before half-time with a strike which deflected in off Scott Dann.
Aguero then finished off an excellent team move also involving David Silva, Yaya Toure and Kevin De Bruyne in the 68th minute before unselfishly setting up David Silva to complete the scoring six minutes from time.
The result left Palace without a win – or a goal – in five league games.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini sprang a few surprises as he left Toure, Raheem Sterling, Jesus Navas and Bacary Sagna on the bench and handed an opportunity to striker Kelechi Iheanacho.
Iheanacho, the highly-rated Nigerian who scored the winner off the bench at Selhurst Park in September, had made just one previous league start but earned his chance after impressing in the FA Cup last weekend.
The 19-year-old’s inclusion alongside Aguero meant a switch to 4-4-2, and that initially appeared to favour Palace and their packed midfield.
The visitors were able to get balls into the box and Joe Hart had to be alert to keep out a powerful header from Damien Delaney in the second minute.
Scott Dann also had two opportunities with free headers and City had another escape when Hart kicked the ball straight at James McArthur attempting to clear and Delaney put the rebound over.
City took time to gain a foothold in the game, but Silva served warning by shooting wide before Delph struck the opener after 22 minutes.
The goal came out of nothing, with Delph appearing to have little on as he took aim from 30 yards, but Wayne Hennessey could not keep out his low shot.
Palace responded with Yohan Cabaye’s free-kick well saved by Hart, but City threatened again as Iheanacho missed his kick in front of goal and Aguero almost found the target with a shot off the ground after slipping.
Aguero did strike four minutes before the interval, scoring after casually taking aim from outside the area, although he needed a big deflection off Dann’s head to deceive Hennessey. The Argentinian had another effort deflected over just before the break.
City suffered a blow early in the second half as Aleksandar Kolarov was carried off injured.
Palace appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty after a Fernando clearance struck Martin Demichelis’ hand, and Joel Ward then cut inside to shoot wide.
But City soon tightened their grip with a nice team goal. Aguero and Silva combined before Toure – on for Iheanacho – strode forward to play Kevin De Bruyne into space on the right. The Belgian pulled the ball across goal and Aguero had a simple tap-in for his second.
Palace fought on and Cabaye went close from 40 yards, but City retained firm control.
They wrapped up victory with a slick counter-attack six minutes from time. De Bruyne released Aguero from inside his own half and he outpaced the backtracking defence to set up an easy finish for Silva.