Manchester City cut the gap at the top of the Premier League table to five points as they won 3-1 in a pulsating match against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday evening.
Gabriel Jesus gave City the lead mid-way through the first half as he polished off a stunning cross from Kevin De Bruyne. The hosts managed to draw level though as they exposed City’s defensive problems to power through, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin nodding home Seamus Coleman’s effort from extremely close range.
The champions were frustrated throughout the majority of the game but Riyad Mahrez got them back on track as he fired a low free-kick past Jordan Pickford to reclaim the lead with 20 minutes remaining. Everton really gave Manchester City a severe test but the points were sealed late on by Sterling.
Injury problems for Everton
Mahrez had the first real shot in anger of the match as he cut inside and tested Jordan Pickford with a low drive. The hosts were then forced into an early change as Theo Walcott had to be withdrawn through injury and was replaced by Alex Iwobi.
Pep Guardiola’s troops should really have taken the lead but Ilkay Gundogan passed up a wonderful opportunity. Mahrez whipped in an excellent cross to the unmarked German but he somehow cannoned the ball off of the crossbar from only a few yards out.
Sparkling De Bruyne the architect once again
It was only a matter of time before the champions edged ahead though and their goal really was a thing of beauty. Mahrez, who put in a thrilling showing all evening, skipped away from Lucas Digne on the right flank and picked out De Bruyne. The Belgian sent in an absolutely stunning cross that dropped onto the head of Jesus who finished with a brilliant diving header.
Mahrez then had a great opportunity to double the lead but struck his shot straight at Jordan Pickford.
Everton roar back
Despite all of the Manchester City chances, Everton managed to level. Iwobi was tenacious as he carried the ball towards goal and managed to out-muscle Fernandinho to prod the ball through to Coleman. The Irish defender sweetly lifted the ball over Ederson and just as it was about to trickle over the line, Calvert-Lewin dived in just to make sure.
The game resumed at a really positive tempo as both sides searched out a second goal. Richarlison went close from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s cross but directed it wide. Yerry Mina did go one better as he got on the end of the free-kick but a great reaction save from Ederson kept the scores level.
Sterling probably was guilty of the worst miss though as a beautiful slide-rule ball from Mahrez saw Sterling played through one-on-one. Uncharacteristically, he somehow shot wide.
Mahrez sprinkles magic at Goodison
The champions were really struggling to click in attack throughout the game but one man seized responsibility and that was Mahrez. Stepping over a free-kick with just 20 minutes remaining, the Algerian arrowed the ball into the bottom corner to put City in control once again.
Marco Silva’s Toffees did continue to create chances though and Calvert-Lewin could have had a second but was this time denied by Ederson. The Brazilian was then also quick to react as Mina got free from a corner and tipped away his header from the bottom corner.
Sterling finally sinks Everton
Just as the hosts were pushing for what would have been a deserved equaliser, Sterling wrapped the match up. Substitute Sergio Aguero shot at Pickford, only for the ball to fall at the feet of his substitute. He then stayed concentrated to send the ball high into the net, with it ricocheting down onto the goal-line and marginally over the line to finally seal a hard-fought win.
Make no mistakes, this was a real test for Guardiola’s reigning champions. Everton were much improved and created a numerous amount of chances. However, as potential league winners do, City found a way to get the three points. That really is testament to the quality within their squad with Mahrez and Sterling staying cool to net the points. The hosts will potentially feel slightly hard done by having not earned at least a draw as they were probably good value for it in the end.
Everton: Pickford (5); Digne (6), Mina (7), Keane (6), Coleman (7); Delph (6), Schneiderlin (6) (Davies (N/A), 81′); Richarlison (6), Sigurdsson (6), Walcott (N/A) (Iwobi (7), 7′ (Kean (6), 74′)); Calvert-Lewin (7).
Manchester City: Ederson (7); Zinchenko (5), Fernandinho (6), Otamendi (6), Walker (6); Gundogan (6), Rodri (7); Sterling (7), De Bruyne (7) (B. Silva (N/A), 80′), Mahrez (8); Jesus (7) (Aguero (6), 66′).
Goals: Jesus (24′), Calvert-Lewin (33′), Mahrez (71′), Sterling (84′)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Yellow Cards: Rodri (38′), Otamendi (51′), Schneiderlin (59′), Mina (70′)
Red Cards: N/A
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