There are plaudits aplenty for Raheem Sterling in this morning’s headlines after what was a super Sunday in every sense for Manchester City.
Liverpool’s subsequent 2-0 win over Chelsea may have moved the Merseysiders’ back on top of the Premier League but, with a precious game in hand, the title advantage still lies with Pep Guardiola’s men after Sterling’s two-goal heroics inspired City to a superb 3-1 win at Selhurst Park.
A memorable day was then capped by City’s women who sealed their place in the FA Cup final with a dramatic 1-0 semi-final win over Chelsea which also makes this morning's headlines.
But we start with Sterling and The Mirror’s Liam Prenderville reports on how Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness believes this latest bravura performance from the 24-year-old confirmed to him that the City winger would be a worthy Player of the Year recipient.
Writes Prenderville: “Graeme Souness believes Raheem Sterling deserves to win the Player of the Year award.
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“The Manchester City star was at the double as his side eased past Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday.
“That brace took Sterling's Premier League tally to 15 goals for the season as City put pressure on Liverpool in the title race.
“Sterling is expected to battle it out with Anfield defender Virgil van Dijk for the individual honours but Souness believes the England international has the edge.
"Sterling left Anfield, at 20 and he's been sensational. And he should only get better," Souness said on Sky Sports.
“He's not the most clinical and he will accept that, he should be well into his 20s playing for that team and I think he will, playing in this side with these players.
"I'd give (Player of the Year) to him right now, I think he has been fabulous."
There was similar acclaim for Sterling from the Daily Telegraph’s chief football writer Matt Law following his Selhurst Park heroics.
Law scribed: “If Manchester City are to break Liverpool hearts again, then it may well be the man who was part of the Reds’ last near-miss to provide the hammer blow.
“Raheem Sterling was a teenager in the Liverpool team that slipped up against Chelsea in 2014 and effectively handed the Premier League title to City.
“Ahead of the 2019 re-run on that famous Anfield match, Sterling made sure Liverpool could not afford another mistake with two goals for City against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Jurgen Klopp’s team responded by beating Chelsea, but they cannot expect to be given any gifts by City or Sterling.
“The fact Sterling shook off a glaring early miss to go on and score twice perhaps best demonstrates his progression over the past couple of years. He also made a big contribution defensively, as he supported Kyle Walker to help minimise Wilfried Zaha’s impact.
“Sterling’s mental prowess matches his physical ability and one senses that he feels ready to have a big say in the destination of this season’s title.
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“It says much about how key Sterling is to manager Pep Guardiola that he was not among those rotated between the Champions League tie against Tottenham and the trip to Palace.”
Another Blue caught the eye of the Manchester Evening News’s Stuart Brennan on what felt like another pivotal day in the title race.
The MEN man highlighted the individual contribution of Kevin De Bruyne who was at his influential best in South London.
Brennan reported: “You might have wondered whether those pictures of a black hole had somehow reversed time and it was all going to go backwards for the Blues.
“But De Bruyne, who had set it all rolling with a gorgeous pass for Sterling’s first, came up with a lung-bursting counter-attack, and Gabriel Jesus calmly finished the job.
“The Belgian is an honest kind of chap, sometimes brutally so when it comes to assessing himself.
“But you get the feeling he was modest last week when he suggested we would not be seeing the REAL KDB for the rest of this season. He has just had too many injury comebacks, too long on the sidelines, he claimed with a hint of a sigh.
“No-one, but no-one, believed a word of it.
“Whether he was lowering expectations, or trying to lull the opposition into a false sense of security, is unclear.
“But from the moment he sliced open the Crystal Palace defence with a through-ball of geometric beauty and perfect velocity, there were few doubts that he will still play a serious part in the Blues’ Quintuple hunt.”
Of course, it was also a super Sunday for Manchester City’s women who booked their place in the FA Cup final with a last-gasp 1-0 semi-final win over Chelsea at the Academy Stadium.
And the Guardian’s Suzanne Wrack reflected on what was a dramatic denouement to a tense affair.
“When it’s Chelsea you’re never going to dominate the game,” City manager Nick Cushing said afterwards.
“I’m proud that it’s the sixth straight season that we’re at the table for everything come April. And then there’s a bit of luck involved, strategic thinking, pushing the players in difficult games. This year we’ve won the Conti Cup, we’ve qualified for the Champions League and we’ve got the opportunity to win and FA Cup.”
The City boss was also full of praise for his defenders after a high-pressure game. “You always want to play well here and at times we played well and at times we looked nervous,” he added.
“When you’re playing big games and competing for leagues and cups and Champions Leagues you have to be composed and soak up pressure on the rack. You look at Steph Houghton and Jen Beattie, with those type of players you can sort of cope on the rack.”
Sky Sports also reflected on what was yet another memorable clash in a history of tense affairs between the rivals.
Sky reported: “City booked their spot in the Women's FA Cup final after an own goal in added time saw them snatch a 1-0 win over holders Chelsea on Sunday.
“The tie - between two sides who have met four times in this competition in the last five years - looked to be heading towards extra-time until Magdalena Eriksson's unfortunate last-gasp intervention.
“Under no pressure, Eriksson inadvertently turned Demi Stokes' cross past Blues goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger in the second minute of injury time at City's Academy Stadium.
“City's opponents in the Wembley final on May 4 will be West Ham, who had earlier booked their place in the showpiece event for the first time after a 4-3 penalty shootout victory over Reading at Adams Park, following a 1-1 draw.”