Manchester City ran out 3-1 winners at Goodson Park after a close-fought contest. It’s a result that will be felt across Stanley Park, with City’s win reducing Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League table to five points.
City took the lead on 24 minutes after a fine Kevin De Bruyne cross perfectly picked out the head of Gabriel Jesus, who made no mistake from close range. Less than 10 minutes later, Everton hit back with Dominic Calvert-Levin converting a goal-bound Seamus Coleman chip to level the proceedings.
Both sides created chances in a frantic second period, but the crucial breakthrough came from a set piece, with a moment of magic from Riyad Mahrez taking Jordan Pickford by surprise to make it 2-1. City would weather an Everton storm late on, sealing the win with a Raheem Sterling strike.
With eight assists in seven Premier League games, City continue to be bolstered by the league’s most in-form player; Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian was central to everything good City did in an attacking sense, while a fine cameo by Riyad Mahrez was another high point for Pep, who even with Leroy Sane‘s injury, has an array of attacking talent in which to choose from.
For all the brilliance of De Bruyne, Mahrez and Co., the longstanding issue for Pep Guardiola’s side remains the centre of the defence. There were question marks over the position long before this season, but with Aymeric Laporte and John Stones side-lined with long-term injuries, the issue feels more pressing than ever. Should City continue to persevere with the partnership of Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho, it will surely cost them crucial points in the title race
Manager rating out of 10
6 — Guardiola continues to fall victim to his first-choice defenders being unavailable, but Pep arguably did himself no favours by choosing to rest the likes of Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero. Their replacements — Mahrez and Jesus — played well, but his decision to recall Oleksandr Zinchenko at left-back, who had a shaky game, could have proved costly on another day.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson, 7 — Made fine stops to deny a powerful Yerry Mina header and a Calvert-Lewin close-range strike. As ever, the Brazilian’s distribution was superb, in an unusually eventful evening for City’s reliable stopper.
DF Kyle Walker, 6 — In a frustrating game for the wing-back, Walker appeared to be unable to influence the game in his usual dynamic way. With Everton proving dangerous on the break, Walker’s attacking explosiveness was blunted, with defensive duties prioritised. Solid, if unspectacular.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 4 — Another unconvincing display from the man who ended last season as City’s fourth-choice centre-back. On this evidence, it’s not hard to see why, as Otamendi was often guilty of stepping out of position to try and win the ball, leaving gaps on too many occasions.
DF Fernandinho, 5 — The converted defender was guilty of giving away free kicks in dangerous areas, while also selling himself short with a poorly-timed tackle that contributed to Calvert-Lewin’s equaliser.
DF Oleksandr Zinchenko, 5 — Was brought back into the side in place of Benjamin Mendy. Had one or two shaky moments defensively, in a display that won’t live long in the memory.
MF Rodri, 7 — Played the anchor role for City and did a fine job in possession, remaining composed in trying circumstances as City’s two centre-backs made life hard for the Spaniard.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 6 — Missed an absolute sitter from a few yards out early on and struggled to influence the game thereafter. It was a muted performance from Gundogan overall, who played as the most advanced midfielder.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 8 — He played a key role in building City attacks, and grabbed his eighth assist in just seven Premier League games with another trademark cross for Jesus’ goal.
FW Raheem Sterling, 7 — Sterling found space hard to come by, with Everton often doubling up on the English star. He enjoyed a better second half, drifting centrally in an attempt to find more space. Missed a gilt-edged chance with the game at 1-1, but made up for it by sealing the win late on.
FW Riyad Mahrez, 8 — Started brightly, beautifully teeing up Gundogan for an open goal opportunity that was somehow missed. His all-important free kick, while savable, will undoubtedly put him right back into Guardiola’s good books.
FW Gabriel Jesus, 7 — Scored City’s first of the afternoon with a poacher’s finish, playing the offside trap to perfection to head home from in close. Jesus continues to be a fine deputy whenever the prolific Aguero is in need of a rest.
FW Sergio Aguero, 6 — Was brought on to rescue the game, but in the end, Mahrez and Sterling made sure that he didn’t need to. Looked bright whenever he was on the ball.
MF Bernardo Silva, N/R — On for 10 minutes but didn’t make any glaring contributions.
MF David Silva, N/R — Just a short run out for the veteran, who will surely feel rested for City’s midweek game vs. Dinamo Zagreb.