- Dillon Meehan
Phil Foden strike picks up huge three points for Blues – Everton 0-1 Manchester City Review
Following a difficult loss last Saturday against Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City found themselves in a must-win match at Goodison Park. Everton have found themselves in a relegation fight and have been reinvigorated under Frank Lampard, who set Everton up to nearly pull off the upset. However, City found their rhythm in the second half and a bit of good fortune gave the Blues a 1-0 win to stay six points clear of Liverpool in the title race.
After the 3-2 loss last week, Pep Guardiola only made one change with John Stones replacing Kyle Walker at right-back. Gundogan captained the side and Bernardo Silva once again slotted into the false nine position. Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus were back in the squad after injury issues, but once again Cole Palmer was not in the side.
Before kick-off, both the Everton and Manchester City squads and crowd showed support for Oleks Zinchenko and Vitaliy Mykolenko after Russia invaded Ukraine this past week. ZInchenko was visibly emotional on the touchline and applauded the crowd several times throughout the match.
Everton started the game off very strong, their relentless press in the opening 20 minutes stifled City’s ability to build through the back and take control of the game.
The league leaders were only able to muster two shots on target in the entire first half. One being a long-range effort from Kevin De Bruyne in the 28th minute, and the second being a scuffed shot from Bernardo cutting in on the edge of the box just a few minutes later.
Everton’s biggest chance came in in the 31st minute. De Bruyne lost possession in his own defensive third and the ball found its way to the feet of Allan who nearly carried it into City’s box before laying it off to Jonjoe Kenny, who split Stones and Laporte but fired his close range effort into the side of the post.
Everton had another big chance two minutes later when Richarlison found himself in a one on one with Ederson. City had struggled to clear the ball out of their own box and it fell to the feet of the Brazilian who was just next to the penalty spot, but his off-balanced shot went right to the feet of the keeper.
Guardiola made a few tactical changes to start the second half. Foden switched from right to left wing, Raheem Sterling played as a striker and Bernardo went wide right.
It became apparent from the start of the second half that Everton’s relentless press in the first half had caught up to them. They looked tired both defensively and in transition and it allowed Guardiola's men to take control of the game and create chances time and time again.
City finally broke through just ten minutes into the second half when Foden fired a shot across goal that Pickford was forced to parry away. The Blues were able to retain possession and quickly found Cancelo at the edge of the six-yard box who’s curling effort forced another Pickford save.
Pickford was forced to make another double save in the 67th minute, De Bruyne found a few yards of space from the edge of the box and fired a low shot that caused the England International to make a diving save, but it immediately rebounded to Bernardo whose volleyed effort was once again parried away.
It was at that moment that a scoreless draw was beginning to seem more and more likely. However, in the 76th minute, Guardiola brought on Riyad Mahrez for Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus for Sterling. Jesus played in his traditional central role and Mahrez went on the right-wing, bringing Bernardo back into his left midfield role. The change gave City a little more energy in the final third, and it is what allowed Bernardo to be in position to assist Foden for the winning goal just minutes later.
In the 81st minute Bernardo fired in a cross from the left wing which took a favourable deflection off Mason Holgate, the ball found its way to the feet of Phil Foden who calmly slotted a near-post finish past Jordan Pickford to secure the three points.
But the match was not without controversy. Just two minutes after Foden’s goal, Richarlison got in behind Laporte and Stones and forced Ederson off his line to make a key save. The ball ricocheted into the air and after it bounced down Rodri clumsily handled the ball with his right arm. There was no handball call initially but moments later the match was stopped for a VAR review. The ball was deemed to have hit Rodri above the sleeve line.
The crowd at Goodison Park was irate and it made for very tense closing minutes. When Paul Tierney finally blew the whistle in the 98th minute, the City players celebrated like it was the biggest win of the season, and with Liverpool regaining their form, maybe it is.
Man of the Match
It wasn’t his best performance in a City shirt but Foden was one of the Blue’s only threats in the first half and really grew into the game throughout the second half once he switched to the left-wing. Once he was in his more favourable position the 21-year-old was able to make more of a mark on the pitch. The game winner was what separated him from the rest.
Ederson - 8
Cancelo - 8
Dias - 7
Laporte - 7
Rodri - 6
Gundogan - 8
De Bruyne - 6
Silva - 8
Sterling - 6
Foden - 8
Substitutes: Mahrez - N/A, Jesus - N/A
Written by: @IVIeehan
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