Manchester City battled to a 1-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park, but benefitted from a more than dubious decision by VAR not to award a penalty to the home side late on. Phil Foden scored the only goal of the game thanks to a terrible error in the Everton defence, but a mis-control by Rodri was dismissed by VAR, denying the home side the chance of an equaliser.
After last week’s 3-2 home defeat by Spurs, the blues held a three point lead of nearest rivals Liverpool at the top of the Premier League, and a failure to capture all three points on the blue half of Merseyside would give the reds an opportunity to bring that lead to just one point.
Before the match, both sets of players took to the field sporting the colours of the Ukrainian national flag, showing their solidarity for the country currently under attack from Russia, and it was clear by the reaction of City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko and Everton’s Vitalii Mykolenko, just what it meant to them as they embraced in a shared grief for their under-siege homeland. We can only hope that the conflict in eastern Europe comes to a swift conclusion.
Zinchenko was named on the substitutes bench, along with top scorer Riyad Mahrez, much to the surprise of the travelling faithful who, after last week’s loss, would have expected the Algerian to start the match.
For long periods at Goodison, Liverpool’s hopes of the blues dropping more points in a week looked like becoming a reality as City struggled to break down a stubborn Everton side, desperate for points themselves as they now face the real possibility of relegation for the first time since 1951.
City continually raided down the left, but couldn’t get the final ball beyond the defence and when they did, England keeper Jordan Pickford dealt with anything that came his way. And the home side had opportunities themselves in the first half, but only managed two shots on target in a lacklustre first forty-five.
The blues upped the tempo in the second half, and almost camped inside the Everton half as they went in search of the goal which they hoped would crush the home supporters hopes, and those of the watching Liverpool supporters, of a shock victory. Foden saw a powerful effort saved by Pickford and John Stones saw his left foot effort parried behind for a corner.
Kevin de Bruyne almost opened the scoring after evading the Everton defence. His right foot shot was parried by Pickford into the path of Bernardo Silva, and the England keeper made a smart double save to deny the Portugal man the opening goal.
The blues were getting closer and with just eight minutes remaining, they finally broke the deadlock. Everton had two opportunities to clear Silva’s ball into the box, but with none taken, the ball found its way to Foden. The youngster showed composure to flick the ball away from the keeper with his first touch, before tapping into the back of the goal with his second.
But the result was overshadowed by an incident just moments after City took the lead. Everton striker Richarlison managed to stay on his feet for once but lost Ederson was quick to react and the ball deflected into the penalty area, where Rodri was about to clear up. The ball hit his arm and Everton immediately appealed for a penalty, which the referee waved away. Seconds later, the game was halted as a VAR check took place and, for some inexplicable reason, the VAR officials deemed it not to be handball.
The decision united the city of Liverpool in their anger and the blues played out the remainder of the match without incident to record a 1-0 win and three precious points to move six clear of Liverpool, and put the pressure back on the Mersey reds to keep up.
Final Score: Everton 0-1 Manchester City