City overcome sticky start to battle past Toffees

City overcome sticky start to battle past Toffees
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Manchester City moved to within five points of the Premier League (PL) summit after a superb second-half performance helped them to a 3-1 victory over Everton. The result gives Pep Guardiola’s side a seventh straight PL win at Goodison Park. 

Fresh from their Club World Cup success in Saudi Arabia, City returned to domestic action determined to kick-start a stuttering defence of their PL crown. A trip to an in-form Everton side promised to be a tricky assignment, however, the visitors quickly took control of proceedings, with Julián Álvarez seeing a stabbed effort from close range thwarted by Jordan Pickford. City continued to dominate a one-sided opening quarter-hour, but Pickford again stood firm in the Everton goal, denying Matheus Nunes and Phil Foden with a superb double save.

Having survived an early onslaught from the visitors, Everton took a shock lead against the run of play shortly before the half-hour mark, when Dwight McNeil capitalised on a poor touch from Rodri to tee up Jack Harrison for a simple finish inside the six-yard box. Armed with the momentum, the hosts came close to doubling their lead before HT, but Ederson showed impressive reflexes to tip a fierce Harrison strike over the bar – keeping the deficit to just a single goal heading into the break.

The early stages of the second half followed a similar pattern to the first, and City’s pressure was rewarded with an equaliser in the 53rd minute, as Foden caught Pickford out at his near post with a powerful 25-yard drive. Buoyed by the leveller, the visitors came agonisingly close to completing their turnaround just two minutes later, when Foden directed Álvarez’s low cross inches wide of the far post.

Undeterred, City were handed a golden chance to take the lead shortly after the hour mark, when Nathan Aké’s goalbound effort struck the arm of Amadou Onana. In the absence of first-choice taker Erling Haaland, Álvarez assumed the responsibility from the spot, and the Argentine blasted his penalty down the middle for his fifth PL goal of the season. Everton probed for a late response with time ticking into the final 20 minutes, but Bernardo Silva punished a wayward pass from Pickford with a well-taken lob, earning City just their second PL win in seven matches. The hosts meanwhile, will be desperate to bounce back against Wolves on Saturday after suffering back-to-back league defeats for the first time since August.
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