Manchester City had a lot of things going against them entering the second half of Monday’s Premier League match against Everton, but Pep Guardiola’s men continued to fight for the entire final period and eventually found a way to get a goal and rescue a point with a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium. Getting a point isn’t the best start to the season at home, but this one feels like a win given the circumstances.
Guardiola made only one change to the team that beat Brighton last Saturday, with Leroy Sané in place of Danilo at left wing-back. The Blues started the game brightly, dominating possession and forcing Everton into constant long balls to clear their lines in defense. The Toffees didn’t hurt City at all in the first 20 minutes, but as time went on Dominic Calvert-Lewin began to dominate Nicolas Otamendi on the left side of City’s back three, and Everton found ways to create problems on that side.
Pep was forced to switch his center-backs with Vincent Kompany going to the left flank to deal with Calvert-Lewin, and that worked well until Leroy Sané made a poor pass that put Everton on the counter, and Calvert-Lewin made a great assist to Wayne Rooney, who scored the opener with a fine finish that went through Éderson’s legs and hit the post before going in.
Right before Rooney’s goal, City had created two major chances: first, Kevin De Bruyne found Sergio Agüero wide open in front of Jordan Pickford inside the box but the City striker inexplicably hesitated multiple times and was eventually dispossessed without taking a shot at goal; in the second chance, Agüero played a wonderful cross to David Silva, who had time to bring the ball down and choose where to place the ball but could only hit the post.
The missed chances were punished in a painful way, and to make things worse referee Bobby Madley gave two soft yellow cards inside one minute and sent off Kyle Walker in a ridiculous decision.
At halftime, City played well but couldn’t finish their chances, and they went into the dressing room a goal down and a man down.
Despite being down to 10 men, City did not want to go down without a fight. Pep made a change with Raheem Sterling in place of Gabriel Jesus to keep the system with wing-backs and three central defenders, but Guardiola quickly recognized his plan wasn’t working and took off John Stones, with Danilo coming in at right-back and Sterling becoming a second striker behind Agüero.
The changes had a positive effect on the City attack, with Danilo providing very good supporting runs on the right side and using his pace to beat Leighton Baines and create a few very dangerous chances that Pickford sent away with some great saves. Pep made one final substitution with Bernardo Silva in place of Leroy Sané, putting Fernandinho at left-back and De Bruyne as a defensive midfielder.
City were even more dangerous after that last change, with Bernardo displaying his creativity on the ball and linking up with Danilo on the right flank, and that was how the equalizer came: Bernardo found Danilo on the wing and the Brazilian played a cross into the box that Mason Holgate headed right into the path of Sterling, who met the ball in the air with a sensational volley and tied things up with just 10 minutes to go.
The Blues still had a few half-chances but nothing really dangerous, and after Morgan Schneiderlin was sent off with two yellow cards Everton parked the bus for the last few seconds and held on to a crucial point away from home for the Toffees.
From City’s point of view, not winning at home is never a great thing but this draw should be viewed in a positive light. City should character and spirit when things were tough, and they were still able to play beautiful attacking football even with just ten men.
Man City: Éderson; Kompany, Stones (Danilo), Otamendi; Walker, De Bruyne, Silva, Sané (Bernardo); Agüero, G.Jesus (Sterling)
Goal: Sterling (82’)
Everton: Pickford; Keane, Williams (Klaassen), Jagielka; Holgate, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Baines; Davies (Sigurdsson), Rooney (Besic); Calvert-Lewin
Goal: Rooney (35’)