Maarten Stekelenburg had the “match of his life” to help Everton earn a 1-1 draw at Manchester City, according to Ronald Koeman.
Stekelenburg kept out penalties from Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero together with several other good saves at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, although he was unable to prevent substitute Nolito from heading home an equaliser to earn a point that kept City top of the Premier League on goal difference from Arsenal.
Everton are sixth in the table following the draw, a result Koeman welcomed given the quality of opposition his side were up against.
“I am satisfied with a point because not many teams leave this stadium with a point,” he said.
“You need to be a little bit lucky and a goalkeeper to have the match of his life, and you need a [high] work-rate from your team.
“[The result is] a big compliment to the team because we fought. They [City] were the better team, had the chances, missed two penalties but it’s a final score of 1-1.
“I said yesterday to the rest of the staff that we need to be prepared for three defenders from Pep [Guardiola],” he added, referring to City’s formation changes.
“We took a risk to start with three forward players. That is why we changed after 20 minutes to deal with that.”
Koeman had little sympathy for the struggles of De Bruyne and Aguero from the spot, but did offer a ringing endorsement of Guardiola’s league leaders.
“If they miss penalties it’s the problem of City! We know we are difficult to beat,” he said.
“They [City] are the best team football-wise we have faced this season.”
Everton barely threatened throughout the 90 minutes, opening the scoring with a clinical counterattacking goal created by Idrissa Gueye and Yannick Bolasie and scored by Romelu Lukaku, who earned high praise from his manager.
“I think Romelu Lukaku is one of the most feared [strikers] in Europe,” he said.
“He doesn’t need a lot of chances to score. He worked hard today and it’s important for the team.”