Manchester City secured another three points as they kept the pace with Liverpool at the top of the table, but were made to work hard by a resilient Everton, who had something to prove following their dismal performance last week.
Goals from Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling won the match for City, but it was nowhere near as easy for the blues following last week’s 8-0 thrashing of Watford. The bleus knew they had to win to keep the pressure on Liverpool, who won their seventh game of the season 1-0 at Sheffield United.
Manager Pep Guardiola will have had Tuesday’s visit of Dinamo Zagreb in mind when selecting his team to face the Toffees, with Aguero and both Silva’s on the bench, however Raheem Sterling returned to the starting line-up after being left on the bench for Watford’s visit.
The blues, as usual started on the front foot and Mahrez could have given City the lead inside a minute, but Jordan Pickford in the Everton goal was equal to his effort, producing a one handed save. Sterling picked up the rebound, but his cross was caught full in the face by Theo Walcott, and the former Arsenal man was substituted and taken to hospital as a precaution.
City began to take control of the match and Ilkay Gundogan hit the bar for a couple of yards out when it looked easier to score. Kevin de Bruyne, so often the architect of City’s goals, was dispossessed outside the City area which gave the home side an opportunity which they didn’t take and they would soon rue that miss.
The impressive Mahrez skipped away down the right before playing the ball back to de Bruyne, who whipped in a superb cross for Jesus to meet with a diving header. Everton appealed for offside, but it was clear Jesus was onside when the cross came in.
With Everton’s confidence low and speculation surrounding the future of their manager Marco Silva, it would have been easy to write the Toffee’s off as City pressed for a second that wouldn’t arrive in the first half. Instead, it was the home side who scored next, when Seamus Coleman dinked a shot over Ederson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin dived to head the ball over the line to make sure.
Everton were defending doggedly and City were struggling to break through, but on the occasions they did, City couldn’t apply the finish. Gundogan made space for himself at the start of the second but couldn’t find the back of the net, and de Bruyne fired into the side netting as City looked to retake the lead. But it was Sterling who had the best chance after being freed by Mahrez, only to send his first time shot agonisingly wide of the post.
City finally went back in front on 71 minutes. De Bruyne’s charge forward ended with a foul by Yerry Mina, and Mahrez bent a free lick round the wall, beyond Pickford’s desperate stretch to nestle into the bottom corner. That served to silence Goodison Park, apart from the City fans who were now bouncing after that goal.
Ederson denied Calvert-Lewin a second equaliser, and also prevented Mina from scoring with a header before Sterling made the game safe with six minutes remaining. Substitute Sergio Aguero’s shot was saved by Pickford, but the rebound fell to Sterling, who hammered his shot against the bar and over the line for 3-1.
The third goal finally took the sting out of Everton’s resistance and City saw the game through to remain five points behind Liverpool, ready to take advantage of any slip up from the red side of Merseyside.
Next up for City is a visit from Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Tuesday, before welcoming Wolves to the Etihad a week on Sunday.
Final Score: Everton 1-2 Manchester City