Manchester City moved inexorably towards the Premier League summit with an emphatic win that underlined their title credentials.
Victory moved City up to second place and proved the perfect early birthday present for boss Pep Guardiola, who turns 50 today.
A brace from John Stones and additional strikes from Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling gave Guardiola’s men a comfortable win.
While all the focus was on Anfield, away from the spotlight City are quietly moving through the gears and towards the top of the table.
After an unconvincing start to the season, there is now an ominous look about Pep Guardiola’s side, who stretched their unbeaten run to 15 games in all competitions, with an eighth straight win.
And after title rivals Liverpool and United played out a drab goalless draw 45 miles away, City were determined to make a statement of intent and did so in some style.
As expected, City dominated possession from the start, settling into their familiar passing pattern, moving the ball around with assurance, but lacking a clinical touch in the final third.
City continued to put the visitors under pressure in search of the opener, Gundogan, Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne all having shots charged down in quick succession.
De Bruyne, typically, was everywhere, winning back possession, driving City forward and tormenting Palace with his dangerous deliveries.
On one such occasion, Sterling cut the ball out in midfield and sprayed it out wide to De Bruyne, whose menacing cross was blocked by Joel Ward, whose recovery was impressive after losing possession in the first place.
The opening goal duly came in the 26 minute, made possible by a breathtaking delivery from De Bruyne, curling the ball in with the outside of his right boot for John Stones to send a header beyond Vicente Guaita.
It was a first Premier League goal for Stones in a City shirt and only his second in 172 league games, his only previous effort coming against United back in April 2015.
But that personal milestone for Stones was overshadowed by the majesty of De Bruyne’s delivery, which brought up 100 assists in all competitions for him since joining the Blues in 2015.
Gundogan added another layer of style to the win with a stunning, curling strike from the edge of the area in the 56 minute, having shown great determination to win the ball from Andros Townsend.
It was Gundogan’s fourth goal in his last six league games, further underlining the enduring value of Guardiola’s first signing as City boss back in 2016.
Stones had waited nearly six years for a first Premier League goal for City and, just like the proverbial buses, two came along in quick succession.
The defender claimed his second of the game in the 68 minute, slotting the ball in after Guaita had initially saved a header from Ruben Dias, with Sterling adding a fourth with a stunning free-kick late on.
With the game won, Guardiola was able to withdraw De Bruyne and Gundogan with 20 minutes left, to preserve them for Wednesday, when City will look to go top for the first time this season.