Manchester City defeat Everton 2-0
Erling Haaland found the back of the net for the first time since November, aiding Manchester City in defeating a resilient Everton team and briefly claiming the top spot in the Premier League.
The Norwegian striker had patiently awaited his chance to score since recovering from a foot injury that sidelined him for a significant part of December and January. However, he seized the opportunity in this match.
His opening goal showcased his brilliance with a first-time finish, providing his team with a vital breakthrough in the second half. Later, he ensured victory by capitalizing on a clear opportunity to slot the ball past Jordan Pickford.
Up until Haaland’s intervention, Everton’s defensive organization had frustrated the defending champions, who had struggled to create clear chances. It wasn’t until the Norwegian’s strike with 19 minutes remaining that Manchester City registered their first shot on target.
Haaland’s second goal came after Everton failed to clear a corner, allowing him to lash home a powerful first-time shot that Pickford could only get a hand to. Undeterred, Haaland continued his onslaught, exploiting the space left by Everton’s push for an equalizer. He sprinted onto Kevin de Bruyne’s through-ball, shrugged off Jarrad Branthwaite, and calmly found the bottom corner of the net.
Manchester City’s time at the top of the table was brief, as Liverpool reclaimed the summit later in the day by defeating Burnley at Anfield. Nonetheless, City’s return to the top spot for the first time since November 24th reflects their exceptional form. This victory marked their 10th consecutive win in all competitions, including triumphs in the FIFA Club World Cup and FA Cup, and their sixth consecutive win in the Premier League.
In contrast, Everton find themselves entrenched in the relegation zone, having gone seven league games without a victory.
Haaland’s wait is over
Haaland’s initial goal marked the end of a 419-minute goal drought in the Premier League, breaking his longest spell without scoring in the competition and halting a streak of 17 unsuccessful shots.
Following his recovery from a stress fracture in his foot, which sidelined him for five league games and ten matches in all competitions at the start of the year, Haaland maintained his position at the top of the scoring charts even before breaking his goalless streak.
Despite City’s initial struggles in his absence, they found their rhythm after Christmas, demonstrating their ability to perform without Haaland’s goals. However, with his return to form reminiscent of his 36 league goals last season, they pose an even greater threat.
The return of De Bruyne from injury has also been instrumental, particularly in this match where his introduction just before the hour mark injected energy into City’s passing and intensified pressure on Everton’s fatigued defense. His pinpoint pass ultimately led to City’s second goal, sealing their victory.
Calvert-Lewin’s drought goes on
Watching from the stands due to a touchline ban, Everton manager Sean Dyche likely found satisfaction in his team’s performance despite the outcome.
For over an hour, Dyche’s tactical plan seemed to be executed flawlessly, but Everton’s resilience eventually waned, exacerbated by their inability to capitalize on the limited opportunities they created.
Consequently, they departed Manchester empty-handed despite displaying a spirited performance, a characteristic trait of Dyche’s team throughout the season.
In the first half, Everton’s aggressive pressing caused defensive errors from City, yet their attacking efforts were hindered by erratic finishing. Jack Harrison squandered a chance with a wayward shot, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s weak attempt lacked precision when he had an opportunity in space.
While Haaland has ended his goal drought, Calvert-Lewin’s goalless streak has now extended to 18 games. Until he rediscovers his scoring touch, Everton’s primary offensive threat appears to be limited to set-pieces, although they had few opportunities in that regard at the Etihad Stadium.