Manchester City claimed all three points at Goodison Park, courtesy of a spirited comeback victory on Wednesday night.
Pep Guardiola was well aware of the threat Everton posed, which he alluded to in his pre-match press conference, saying his players are now “back to reality” with Everton following on from their victory over Fluminense on Friday night.
With the threat in mind, City took control of the early proceedings by dominating proceedings and keeping the home side at bay, until a careless loss of possession cost the visitors, with Jack Harrison delivering a bitter dagger into the hearts of the blues.
The misery compiled in the first-half for City, when John Stones was forced off with an ankle injury following an unnecessary tackle from an offside Everton attack, causing more woes for Guardiola’s side.
However, the visitors started the second-half with purpose, zipping passes together and carving out chances, with Phil Foden at the centre of those, blasting the ball from the edge of the box past a helpless Jordan Pickford, scoring a vital equaliser.
As City grew into the game, a second goal looked increasingly likely, and when Nathan Ake’s effort struck the hand of Amadou Onana, their efforts were rewarded, courtesy of a Julian Alvarez penalty down the middle.
Firmly in control, City finally looked comfortable, but with the game at 2-1, the nerves may have started to creep in for some, until Bernardo Silva personified composure, lofting the ball over Pickford who’s mistake lead to the goal, sealing the three points for the away side.
It was a spirited comeback from the champions, and with that being said, here are five things we learned from the encounter in Merseyside.
The spirit of champions!
Plenty of justified questions have been asked about the mentality of this City side lately, but the second-half performance has answered a lot of those, with the Blues showing why they are the holding Premier League champions.
It was a much-needed comeback not only in the title race, but for the confidence of the players, who have been on the brunt end of some late point-docking goals in the league.
With City currently sitting five points off top spot with a game in hand, the comeback on Merseyside was hopefully the catalyst for City to kick on and reinstate their name as the champions of this league.
We’ve won, but at what cost?
Defensive frailties are becoming an issue constantly being addressed at the minute, and the injury sustained to John Stones on Wednesday only adds to the woes for Pep Guardiola’s side.
Pep Guardiola confirmed the injury “doesn’t look good” for Stones, as the Englishman was seen leaving Goodison Park wearing a protective boot following the ankle injury sustained at Everton.
Phil Foden is a generational talent.
It has been an interrupted 12 months of football for Phil Foden, with slight niggles and appendicitis keeping him out of the side, but he is rewarding his manager for a run of games now with some incredible displays as of late.
The Englishman scored the first of three and could’ve had a hat-trick on another day, but his all-round play was what wowed at Everton, staking his claim as man of the match on the night.
Since the hamstring injury sustained to Kevin De Bruyne, Foden has stepped up to the mark, playing in several positions and contributing on all fronts, proving to Guardiola he is the reliable star man the Spaniard has claimed he is for all of these years.
A game of two halves; a script we’ve seen before.
The first-half dismay followed by the second-half heroics is an all too familiar feeling for City, with Wednesday’s game having shades of a similar comeback at home to Tottenham last season.
City have been given several wake up calls over the last few weeks, but the first-half display at Everton felt like the final nail in the coffin for City to get a foothold in their season, and kick on from there.
Next up – Sheffield United!
The busy winter schedule sees a home fixture up next, with the Sky Blues welcoming Sheffield United to the Etihad, looking to claim their first win at home in the league since the 6-1 drubbing over Bournemouth in November.
Guardiola will be delighted with his side’s comeback, but will not be resting on his laurels, as the games continue to come thick and fast, with City taking it one game at a time as they look to revive their season following a difficult few weeks for the club.
Manchester City will use their motivation to hopefully build some momentum in the title race, with the City boss insistent on his side having every chance at retaining the title, with Wednesday’s victory an indication of the spirit of his side to be back at the promised land come May.
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