MANCHESTER — Pep Guardiola was delighted that his Manchester City side finally discovered their ruthlessness to record their biggest win of the season with a 5-0 win over Crystal Palace.
The victory lifts City up to third in the Premier League and significantly boosted their goal difference as they try to secure a place in next season’s Champions League.
It leaves qualification in their own hands and Guardiola was impressed that his side were so convincing against a team that had enjoyed wins against Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal last month and are still fighting for their Premier League survival.
“You cannot forget that weeks ago Crystal Palace were able to win at Stamford Bridge and Anfield and they destroy Arsenal,” Guardiola told a news conference.
“I know the quality of their players and Sam Allardyce, which is why scoring five goals against that team gives us a lot of credit. It makes a difference because we have three games in a mini-competition to see if we are going to play in the Champions League next season so it’s a good start. It makes a difference to have the next two games here.
“I’m pleased because finally the staff and players can enjoy the last 30-35 minutes without the pressure for the result and with that we can play a little bit better. The goal difference is so important.”
David Silva returned for his first appearance since picking up a knock in the FA Cup semifinal defeat to Arsenal and made an instant impact scoring inside two minutes.
City failed to win the two Premier League games without him and the Spaniard showed what they have been missing without another outstanding performance before being substituted in the 68th minute.
Guardiola was delighted to have him back and is hoping he can now have a similar influence in City’s three remaining games.
“The big qualities in the big, big clubs is when you are close to the box of the opponent and the players don’t lose the ball. That is the gap we have to improve and David is one of them,” the City boss added.
“OK he can miss, he can lose the ball but not often and I am so, so happy that he finally he scored a goal and Kevin [De Bruyne] too.
“Hopefully David can enjoy this situation and enjoy our target to qualify for the Champions League.”
Palace, meanwhile, are still not certain of avoiding relegation and manager Sam Allardyce blamed his side’s poor defending for their heavy defeat.
“My team was unrecognisable from what I’ve seen over the past two or three months,” he said.
“Hopefully that is a one-off and the lads have got it out of their system ahead of the biggest game of the season next week at home to Hull.”
Jonathan is ESPN FC’s Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.