Everton 1-3 Manchester City

Second half City comeback sinks Blues.

A Phil Foden strike and a cruelly awarded penalty converted by Alvarez saw City take the points and deny Everton something after the Blues had taken a first half lead through Jack Harrison. And the disappointment for the home side was completed when Bernardo Silva capitalised on a poor clearance to score into an unguarded net.

Everton welcomed the newly crowned World Club Champions to Goodison on Wednesday night – City having gained that mantle by overcoming Brazilian outfit Fluminese in the final staged in Saudi Arabia.

Sean Dyche and his Everton side might have lost their recent winning run at Tottenham in the last game before Christmas but, most if not all neutral observers felt the Blues deserved at least a point from a game that, almost as usual, featured a highly contentious VAR decision that denied Dominic Calvert-Lewin a goal. The game did though see a return to first team action for Andre Gomes and the Portuguese impressed with a fine display of midfield play and raking passes before capping his return with a well taken goal.

With Idrissa Gana Gueye and Abdoulaye Doucoure still out with injuries, Gomes was highly likely to feature against the reigning champions and duly retained his place in the Everton starting eleven that read: Jordan Pickford, Nathan Patterson, James Tarkowski (c), Jarrad Branthwaite, Vitalii Mykolenko, Jack Harrison, Amadou Onana, Andre Gomes, James Garner, Dwight McNeil and Beto.

Whilst Kevin de Bruyne and Jeremy Doku have returned to first team training, the visit to Goodison was likely too early for them to return to the City line-up. Leading scorer Erling Haaland was still doubtful because of a foot injury and with Ruben Dias reportedly ill however, midfielder Rodri was hoping to feature despite having sustained a knock during the trip to Jeddah.

Having dropped points in three of their last four Premier League outing but, with games in hand because of their jaunt to KSA, City were no doubt eager to try and make up ground on the teams above them in the table, and boss Pep Guardiola named his starting line-up thus: Ederson, Walker (c), Stones, Akanji, Ake, Nunes, Rodri, Silva, Foden, Grealish and Alvarez.

After a wet and windy day, it was still breezy but dry at kick-off time, with John Brooks the referee.

An early cross from Nathan Patterson found the head of Beto with him unable to direct his effort on target before City settled into their passing mode that led to Grealish finding Alvarez and his quick shot was blocked and hurriedly cleared. Garner on Foden brought the first free kick leading to a ball from Silva intended for Alvarez being put behind for the first corner by Branthwaite, and a shot from Walker deflected off Branthwaite for a second City corner that Tarkowski headed clear.

Foden picked up a loose header by Tarkowski and gaining the Everton area, he lifted his shot over the target without troubling Jordan Pickford. City were dominating the possession statistics through the opening fifteen minutes and a ball from Grealish found its way through to Nunes for a shot that Pickford saved and the England Number One then got a vital piece of the follow-up effort from Alvarez to deflect it wide for a corner that the Blues defended.

McNeil chipped a ball forward for Beto to win a free kick from Akanji that Gomes swung in and Ederson punched clear. Excellent covering and defending by Tarkowski denied Nunes getting to a ball from Silva as City continued to play hundreds of passes to get nowhere and then looked for a longer ball to try and find a way through. Pickford with a decent save low to his left to deny Grealish with his defence then closing ranks to prevent any secondary attempt by the visitors.

Everton won their first corner on 25 minutes as City over elaborated and McNeil saw his deep set piece headed away by Ake. Foden switched to a wide left position to pick out Silva with a nice crossfield pass but, Silva ballooned his effort high into the Gwladys Street seating. City again over elaborated and it cost them in the 29th minute, Garner found Beto and Rodri fell over, McNeil took over and he played a smashing low cross into the six yard area for Jack Harrison to fire the Blues in front.

City tried to hit back quickly but, Rodri side-footed a shot wide of the target as Goodison continued to celebrate the lead. And they raised their voices again as Mykolenko won another corner off Walker. Gomes sent it long and it came out to Harrison who saw Ederson tip his shot out for another corner that saw Mykolenko shoot wide.

Everton were growing in confidence as all the players looked eager to get on the ball and contribute before a long ball from Pickford for Beto saw Stones injured even though the decision went against Beto for offside – the stupid rule of waiting till the play stops before raising the flag will ultimately see a player seriously hurt making a needless challenge.

Less than ten minutes to half time and Patterson was the first yellow card fouling Grealish as he looked to get around the Scot having controlled a long ball from Walker, the free kick leading to a City corner that Beto headed clear. John Stones wasn’t looking comfortable having carried on and City warmed up Gvardiol while Everton got forward on a cross from McNeil that Rodri thrashed clear before Gomes could get to it… City making the change on 42 minutes.

Rodri went in clumsily on James Garner but escaped with just a quiet word from referee Brooks and a minimum of three added minutes were announced. Onana charged down a long range shot by Gvardiol and another raid by City was cleared by a combination of a Patterson header and long hoof downfield by Beto. McNeil conceded a late corner that City completely wasted by trying to be too clever and at the break, the Blues were worthy of their hard-earned lead.

Half Time: 1-0

No further changes by either side for the start of the second half as Everton looked to attack the Gwladys Street. City again quickly dropped into knocking the ball around trying to stretch Everton and with the rain now falling heavily, Silva crossed for Foden to head down to Rodri who skied his first time effort.

A good City move saw Rodri find Silva for a quick ball into the box that Tarkowski put behind for a corner that again saw them pass the ball around before Foden hit a daisycutter from 25 yards to tie the game up in the 53rd minute.

City nearly took the lead as a cross from the right by Alvarez found Foden and his slight re-direction beat Pickford and the far post. A good ball from Patterson tried to release Garner but, Ake got back rapidly yo win the ball and clear. Patterson blocked a cross from Grealish out for a corner while Akanji was yellow carded for an earlier foul on Amadou Onana. The corner was defended but an inadvertent foul by Gomes on Grealish saw the Portuguese booked, as we passed the hour mark as Pickford pushed the free kick from Alvarez out for a throw-in. Patterson conceded another corner that led to pin ball in the area and the referee awarded a penalty for City as a shot hit the arm of Onana, never in the memory of man was it a deliberate attempt by the big Belgian, and after VAR backed up the referee, Alvarez scored off the legs of Pickford who had been booked for attempting to distract the Argentinian.

Andre Gomes and Beto were replaced by Michael Keane and DCL as Sean Dyche changed formation to a back three to try and get both Patterson and Mykolenko into more advanced and attacking positions.

Everton won a corner that Garner sent long but, Tarkowski couldn’t get any direction or power on his header. A foul on McNeil went unpunished, another decision going the way of a Sly Six club. The crowd were trying to lift Everton for a big final twenty minutes before Grealish again went down whining about a something and nothing collision with Tarkowski.

A long ball from Pickford saw a lovely touch by Patterson find Harrsion and his low cross was met by DCL with the ball going just the wrong side of the near post. Alvarez was next to go down after a perfectly timed tackle by Tarkowski left him in a heap, City players all over the place whining like stuck pigs, they’re a very talented side but, boy can they whinge.

Branthwaite was yellow carded for a challenge on Silva that he didn’t like and a minute later, Grealish again went down under a tackle from Tarkowski that saw the stoppage used by Everton to replace Jack Harrison with Arnaut Danjuma with ten minutes to play.

Could Everton find a way back in the final minutes while City continued to dominate the ball and they sealed it as a clearance from Pickford was partially blocked by Alvarez and Silva pounced to chip City into the unguarded net for an unassailable lead.

The final minutes ticked by until a further six added minutes were signalled and Foden crashed a shot off the far post with Pickford well beaten. With some of the home crowd drifting away having accepted defeat, City came again and Pickford saved well from Foden.

Disappointment for Everton having led at the interval, and the final whistle ended the night with Grealish still whining about just about anything he could find to whine about.

Full Time: 1-3

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