Manchester City found a way past a battling Everton side to keep the pressure on Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table. Two late goals by striker Erling Haaland finally broke Everton’s resistance to briefly send the blues top of the league.
It was a difficult afternoon for City, who faced an Everton side, determined to frustrate the blues and come away from the Etihad with at least a point. In the end, it was the Norwegian hitman who proved to be the difference, opening the scoring in the 71st and 85th minutes to seal the points.
They were the striker’s first goals since November, and the relief around the ground was evident. Despite City’s dominance in possession, Haaland’s first goal was City’s first attempt on target, lashed home after the ball pinged around the Everton box.
His second came after Kevin de Bruyne’s superb pass through the middle saw the Norwegian shrug off the attention of the Everton defender with ease, before slotting home to make the game safe.
City’s rivals will no doubt have been happy until the 71st minute, with Everton defending resolutely to deny Doku amongst others, who had a chance in the first half, only to see an Everton body flung in the way.
And, for once, City also kept a clean sheet, a feat they had only achieved once in the league since beating United 3-0 at Old Trafford at the end of October.
Blues Find A Way
Saturday’s victory over Everton was the blues sixth straight Premier League victory, but probably the most hardest fought. City have had to come back from a goal down to win in three of those matches, however, against a stubborn Everton side, this victory was probably more difficult than any of those matches.
City’s waves of attacks were continually repelled by the Toffees, while the visitors also posed a threat to the City goal. Thankfully, an off-form Calvert-Lewin and an injured Dacoure helped City’s cause.
In some way, it may have been better that Dacoure played. It may have made the game more open with Everton having a target man to aim for. Instead, the visitors piled men behind the ball with the sole aim of frustrating the blues.
One shot on target by the Toffees was evident of the visitor’s game plan, and it would have worked if it wasn’t for Haaland. The Norwegian remained top of the goalscoring charts despite not scoring since November, and only needed a sniff of goal to find the back of the net.
And once City had their noses in front, there would only be one outcome, although Beto fired wide when in a good position. Granted, the Everton man was offside, but it served as a warning to City that the game wasn’t over.
But it was when Haaland grabbed his 16th of the season that the faithful could finally relax, and it was de Bruyne, whose return to the first team couldn’t have been timed any better, who provided it.
Breaking up an Everton attack, the ball came out to the Belgian who sent Haaland free. Haaland shrugged off the Everton defender like he was swatting a fly, before steadying himself to slide the ball past Pickford and into the goal.
De Bruyne had a chance late on, chipping the ball over Pickford but also over the bar as the blues looked to see the match out in style. In the end Haaland’s brace was enough to send City top for a few hours, and with their game in hand against Brentford coming up, the blues will be confident of making top spot their own, leaving the fate of the Premier League title in their own hands.
Final Score: Manchester City 2-0 Everton