Review and Player Ratings as Gundogan magic puts City on brink of Prem title – Everton 0-3 Man City
Manchester City moved another step closer to the title with a comprehensive victory at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon; the Blues now just need one more victory, which would guarantee the title – their third straight – after Arsenal lost 0-3 to Brighton at the Emirates this evening.
Pep Guardiola made four changes from midweek, with Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, Julian Alvarez and Aymeric Laporte coming into the side in place of Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish, Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones. Ederson, Rodri, Ruben Dias, Kyle Walker, Manuel Akanji, Ilkay Gundogan and Erling Haaland rounded out the rest of the starting 11, and all kept their place in the team after the midweek draw in Madrid. Everton, as expected, made very little change to the side that beat Brighton 5-1 on Monday, with Mason Holgate coming in for the injured Vitalii Mykolenko. Holgate had not played since being sent off at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace in late April. The rustiness of Holdgate showed as he struggled to contain Riyad Mahrez, who tormented him all afternoon.
Guardiola's men controlled the early stages of the game and handled the exuberant Everton crowd really well; Everton, buoyed by their win at Brighton, played with confidence and pressured City and put in some strong tackles to get the crowd going.
City were struggling to find the final ball, and in the opening half-hour, created very little as they struggled to break down a well-organised Everton side. Soon after the half-hour mark, the Blues did find their rhythm impressive diagonals from Akanji and Laporte out to Mahrez helped the Algerian isolate Holgate and beat the Englishman, who was fortunate not to see a yellow card for a foul.
With Yerry Mina marking Haaland closely, Gundogan exploited the half space on the left-hand side and left Nathan Peterson in two minds. The young Scottish full-back was caught in two minds on whether to track Gundogan's run or stick tight to Foden. Everton could've opened the scoring after a header on from a corner fell to Holgate, who ballooned the ball over the bar from close in – the Toffees would soon come to rue that miss. Mahrez once again proving a thorn in the Toffees' side cut inside and played a delightful ball into Gundogan, who took an excellent touch with his thigh to set himself up for an exquisite finish into the bottom corner. The German showing fine poise and awareness of his surroundings to give the Blues the breakthrough.
City had their breakthrough, and finally, Guardiola's men started to show their class and swagger. Soon, a second followed; the deadly combination of Foden and Gundogan once again caused Everton problems – this time Gundogan putting in a pinpoint cross, and there was Haaland to finish off a fine move and bag his 36th league goal, his 52nd in all competitions. It had been two straight games without a goal for Haaland; he'll be relieved, along with his manager, to be back on the scoresheet.
As the end of the first half neared, City looked even more dangerous and could've had themselves a third had Yerry Mina not smartly anticipated a cutback denying Gundogan a first-half brace.
City went into the break comfortable, with a two-goal lead to their name, and with a comeback looking unlikely, Sean Dyche decided to save Dominic Calvert-Lewin for the games coming up against Wolves and Bournemouth.
City started the second half well, arguably better than the first, encouraged by their two-goal lead, they attacked with purpose and vibrancy. Foden, playing with confidence, found himself in space and ran at the Everton defence, eventually being fouled on the edge of the box.
City had a free kick in a dangerous position and up stepped the captain Gundogan to take; the German placed the free kick wonderfully into the corner to give Pickford no chance. 3-0, and that was game over.
Gundogan has stepped up and led by example once again. If the talismanic German is to leave this summer, his leadership presence and game intelligence will be sorely missed. The German midfield maestro has time and time again stepped up for City when they've needed it most, with a brace to win the league last season, a prolific run of scoring from the season before, and stepping up to be counted, as he replaced Fernandinho in midfield to help the team win 14 straight games in the 18-19 title run in.
Another player who stepped up was Laporte; out in the cold for most of the season, the Spain international showed his class and quality once again with another solid performance after his last outing at home to Leeds. City greatly benefitted from Laporte's superb passing ability constantly freeing up Mahrez with diagonals to isolate him against Holgate. City's left-hand side, in particular, at Goodison were terrific; Laporte, Akanji, Gundogan and Foden dominated and controlled the game from that area – Gundogan and Foden constantly giving Patterson all sorts of trouble; Akanji and Laporte passing opening up the game for City.
Dyche's men did show a lot of promise, and for a period in the second half, they had City pinned back, but the Premier League champions stood firm; the defence as a whole was resolute. Guardiola will have made it clear to the players the importance of keeping things tight and not allowing the Toffees a route back into the game. The right side of City's defence was equally as impressive, Walker showing why he's so vital for games like this, with Everton on the counter and having a four-on-three in the first half. Calvert-Lewin beat Laporte and was bearing down on goal, only for Walker to use his pace and awareness to stop him from getting a shot away.
This was just the Blues' fourth clean sheet in the last ten games in all competitions; it's a timely one – the defence will have to be just as resolute, if not more, when Real Madrid come to town on Wednesday.
Guardiola will be happy that the likes of De Bruyne, Stones, Haaland, Gundogan and Rordri all got varying degrees of rest. City are almost there the finishing line is in sight, Goodison Park late in the season in the midst of a title race is as tough as they come, and Guardiola's side cleared this hurdle with ease.
One more win is all that stands between City and more history; now all eyes turn to Wednesday's monumental clash – game by game, Guardiola's men edge ever closer to rewriting the history books.
Man of the Match
Our Man of the Match was Gundogan; the captain opened the scoring in fine style with a superbly executed flick, put in a fine cross for Haaland's header, and then finished off the game with a magnificent free kick. Outside of his goal contributions, Gundogan was a constant threat to Everton attacking the box aggressively throughout.
Ederson - 7
Walker - 8
Dias - 8
Laporte - 8
Akanji - 8
Rodri - 7
Alvarez - 6
Gundogan - 10
Mahrez - 8
Foden - 7
Haaland - 7
Substitutions: Bernardo Silva - 6, Grealish - 6, Phillips - N/A, Gomez - N/A
Written by: @MakThatGuy
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