Manchester City turned in a dominant display to record a comfortable victory over Everton at the Etihad Stadium. Goals from Raheem Sterling, Rodri and Bernardo Silva sent City second in the league, closing the gap on leaders Chelsea.
It was the blues first league match at home since losing 2-0 to Crystal Palace at the end of October, and City were in no mood for a repeat of that match.
With Kevin de Bruyne testing positive for Covid-19 and Jack Grealish out injured, manager Pep Guardiola restored winger Sterling to the starting line-up. But, possibly with PSG in mind, dropped Ruben Dias and Gabriel Jesus to the bench, and gave a Premier League start to youngster Cole Palmer.
Following an Everton attack within the first minute, City quickly took control and restricted the visitors to the own half. 11 minutes in and City had their first half-chance of the game. Sterling crossed from the right, but it was just too high for Phil Foden to direct a header towards goal.
On 27 minutes, Sterling could, and perhaps should have done better when gifted a header inside the penalty area. Foden’s cross from the left found the head of Sterling, but the England man could only divert it over the bar without troubling Pickford in the Everton goal.
Palmer then showed why Guardiola showed so much faith in him when he released Silva inside the penalty area. Silva’s attempted chip was blocked by the keeper and the rebound came out to Ilkay Gundogan, who could only head onto the top of the bar and out for a goal kick.
City were knocking on the Everton door and Palmer had a shot saved by Pickford at his near post as the blues edged closer to the opening goal.
The blues thought they had a penalty in the 35th minute when Sterling went down under a challenge from Michael Keane. The decision, as always, went to VAR, who still couldn’t decide and asked the referee to check the pitchside monitor. After a lengthy delay, referee Stuart Atwell overturned his decision, much to the derision of the faithful and the obvious irritation of Guardiola, who remonstrated with the fourth official.
The visitors looked like they had set out to simply frustrate the blues and that’s exactly what they did until the 44th minute. Sterling mis-controlled the ball inside the penalty area and Everton cleared, but only as far as Joao Cancelo.
The full-back produced a sublime pass with the outside of his right boot that split the Everton defence and released Sterling. The England man only needed one touch to divert the ball into the back of the goal to send City in 1-0 up at the break.
City started the second half in much the same fashion and were rewarded ten minutes into the second half by a screamer from Rodri. Everton managed to get the ball away from another City attack, but the ball fell to the Spanish international, who didn’t hesitate and sent a rocket into the top corner for 2-0.
City were no in complete control, with Everton attacks becoming scarce. Palmer showed more examples of his skill as his perfect ball released Kyle Walker down the right. The defender’s ball into the area found Sterling completely unmarked, but the winger looked like he wanted to take the ball past the committed Pickford, and the England keeper managed to make a block.
There was still time for a third and Palmer looked like he might get it. However, his shot was blocked by a tangle of Everton legs, before the ball fell kindly to Silva, who tapped home for 3-0.
Palmer left the field shortly after the goal, replaced by another youngster, James McAtee, and the substitute showed glimpses of what he could do. McAtee was involved from the moment he entered the pitch and could have had a goal had Everton not threw bodies in the way. In the final minutes, the youngster wriggled clear and fired into the side netting from a difficult angle.
In the end, it was comfortable for City, with keeper Ederson barely having anything to do. It will be a different story on Wednesday as PSG come to town, but City returned to second place in the Premier League to keep up the pressure on Chelsea.
Final score: Manchester City 3-0 Everton.