Premier League leaders Manchester City eventually overpowered a Crystal Palace side who became the first team in English Football League history to start a season with six defeats and no goals.
City were only top alphabetically before kick-off, but now lead neighbours Manchester United on goal difference after continuing a prolific start to the new campaign that has seen them score 22 goals in their past five matches.
They had to wait until the very end of the first half to find a way past an initially well-drilled Palace side, but the Eagles lost shape and belief after the break as City ran riot.
Leroy Sane broke the deadlock with a stylish goal that saw him gallop into the area and lift David Silva’s pass over the head of the hapless Scott Dann before prodding home.
At that stage Palace still had hope, but that evaporated at the beginning of the second half thanks to two Raheem Sterling goals in the space of eight minutes.
Sterling made it 2-0 when he met a peach of a cross from Sane and then ended the game as a contest when he fired home Aguero’s pull-back from close range.
Aguero, needing three goals to pass Eric Brook and become City’s record scorer, joined the party with 11 minutes to go when he nodded home another Sane delivery.
Substitute Fabian Delph completed the rout to punish Palace further with a fierce strike into the top corner before the end.
Palace hit the post but wait for a goal goes on
They ended up on the wrong end of a heavy defeat but you could argue Palace did far better than expected in the first half at the Etihad.
Defending in numbers but breaking forward with pace, they almost ended their wait for a league goal this season when Ruben Loftus-Cheek saw his shot deflected on to a post.
Palace’s counter-attack raids gave City something to think about with the score at 0-0 but that plan went out of the window when Sane scored just before the break.
Hodgson’s sides are known for their organisation and determination but they were run ragged in the second half and showed few signs they would end their goal drought.
With games against Manchester United and Chelsea to come, Hodgson has his work cut out to improve his side at both ends of the pitch – and quickly.
City attacking juggernaut gathers pace
It is now 630 minutes – or seven full games – since Crystal Palace last scored a Premier League goal, on 14 May.
In that time, City have scored 29 league goals in eight matches, and show no sign of stopping – whoever is in their line-up.
Gabriel Jesus, who has linked so effectively with Aguero up front this season, was an unused substitute on Saturday.
The Brazilian was not needed, and Bernardo Silva only came on for the last half-hour, as Sane staked his claim for a regular starting place and Sterling continued his fine form.
With David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne pulling the strings, Guardiola must be wondering who is in his strongest team because at the moment City score goals whoever is playing.
The only sour note of Guardiola’s day was an injury which forced Benjamin Mendy off before the break and he believes it could be knee ligament damage.
“Without Mendy, we cannot attack fluently with our full-back down the left,” said Guardiola.
Man of the match – Leroy Sane
Prolific City, dire Eagles – the stats
- Crystal Palace are the only team in Europe’s big five divisions yet to score a league goal this season.
- This is Manchester City’s best goal return after six league games (21).
- Manchester City are the first side to score 5+ goals in three consecutive top-flight games in the same season since Blackburn did so in 1958-59.
- David Silva has been directly involved in seven goals in his last six Premier League appearances against Crystal Palace (four goals, three assists).
- Leroy Sane has scored five goals from just seven shots on target in all competitions for Man City this season.
‘First goal does the damage’ – Manager reaction
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola: “The first half we had problems as the ball must be moved and we didn’t move it.
“But the last 10-15 minutes of the half we got it. The second-half was much, much better. Sane’s goal was so important. His first touch for the goal was brilliant. He runs in behind amazingly. Always the right tempo and moment.”
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson: “I thought at half-time to come in at 1-0 down is a bit unfortunate. I thought we’d played some good football.
“The goal before half-time was very damaging. We didn’t defend anywhere near as well as we should have done for that goal.”
Champions League and Chelsea next for City
City entertain Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday (19:45 BST) and end the week with a serious test of their title credentials when they travel to play Chelsea (Saturday, 17:30).
“We will see what is our level when we face the last champions,” was Guardiola’s take on it. His side lost home and away to Antonio Conte’s team last season.
Palace are back in Manchester next Saturday when they play United at Old Trafford (15:00) in what is their last chance to get a league point or goal before the international break. Fail to manage that and they will have to wait until 14 October, when they play Chelsea, to get off the mark.
- 5StonesSubstituted forDelphat 70′minutes
- 22MendyBooked at 25minsSubstituted forDaniloat 29′minutesBooked at 56mins
- 19SanéBooked at 75mins
- 17De Bruyne
- 7SterlingSubstituted forBernardo Silvaat 61′minutes
- 20Bernardo Silva
- 42Y Touré
- 3van Aanholt
- 7CabayeSubstituted forPuncheonat 57′minutes
- 15SchluppBooked at 76mins
- 17BentekeSubstituted forSakoat 72′minutes
- Neil Swarbrick
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Manchester City 5, Crystal Palace 0.
Second Half ends, Manchester City 5, Crystal Palace 0.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace).
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Kyle Walker.
Goal! Manchester City 5, Crystal Palace 0. Fabian Delph (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box to the top right corner. Assisted by David Silva.
Leroy Sané (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace).
Foul by Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City).
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Mamadou Sakho.
Goal! Manchester City 4, Crystal Palace 0. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Leroy Sané with a cross.
Jeffrey Schlupp (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Danilo (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Jeffrey Schlupp (Crystal Palace).
Leroy Sané (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card.
Attempt missed. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Bernardo Silva.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Bakary Sako replaces Christian Benteke because of an injury.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Substitution, Manchester City. Fabian Delph replaces John Stones.
Delay in match Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) because of an injury.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Jason Puncheon.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match David Silva (Manchester City) because of an injury.
Attempt missed. Danilo (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.
Substitution, Manchester City. Bernardo Silva replaces Raheem Sterling.
Attempt saved. Leroy Sané (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Sergio Agüero.
Goal! Manchester City 3, Crystal Palace 0. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) left footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Sergio Agüero.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Wayne Hennessey.
Attempt saved. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by David Silva.
Attempt missed. Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from outside the box is too high following a corner.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jason Puncheon replaces Yohan Cabaye.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Danilo.
Danilo (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Danilo (Manchester City).
Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Offside, Crystal Palace. Jeffrey Schlupp tries a through ball, but Christian Benteke is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right.
Goal! Manchester City 2, Crystal Palace 0. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Leroy Sané.
Attempt blocked. Kyle Walker (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.