Two goals from Gabriel Jesus and a rare Raheem Sterling header put City back top of the Premier League after a 3-1 win over Everton. In an entertaining clash, the Blues were always on top and thoroughly deserved the three points that were the perfect riposte to last weekend’s loss at Chelsea. And a further bonus was the return of Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, both who started on the bench.
What happened? On a bitterly cold afternoon, there was little to warm up the capacity crowd in the first 20 minutes, other than one or two half-chances. Everton were disciplined and well-organised and the nearest thing to a goal came from the foot of Michael Keane who diverted Ilkay Gundogan’s cross towards his own goal only for Jordan Pickford push around the post. That was after 21 minutes – 60 seconds later City were ahead. Yerry Mina’s poor clearance was collected by Gundogan who fed it straight to Leroy Sane and the German’s through ball was smartly finished by Gabriel Jesus. It was just what the Brazilian striker needed after several hard-working displays had gone unrewarded in recent weeks. The Blues were controlling the game without the visitors really troubling Ederson, thanks in part to the excellent Nicolas Otamendi. Five minutes before the break, Gundogan’s cross fell to Mahrez who fired in a shot from eight yards out, but Pickford made a fine reflex save to push the ball wide. Jesus had the ball in the net again shortly after but was a good yard offside – but five minutes after the re-start, Jesus had his second goal and it was a cracker. The Blues were probing around the Toffees’ box when the ball was cleared as far as Fernandinho – he played a simple pass to Sane and the German winger’s pinpoint cross was met with a thumping Jesus header that gave Pickford no chance. Having waited almost 500 minutes to end his Premier League scoring duck, he’d now found the net twice in less than half-an-hour -plus it was a second assist for the electric Sane. It was a little too comfortable for the champions, so when Everton halved the deficit on 65 minutes, it was something of a surprise to say the least. For once, the Blues’ back-line were caught flat-footed as Lucas Digne’s cross was turned past Ederson by the head of Dominic Calvert-Lewin (and a bit of Fabian Delph). Pep Guardiola reacted immediately, replacing the tiring Sane with the fresh legs of Raheem Sterling – and within three minutes the Blues had their two-goal advantage back.
It was a goal made in Brazil as Jesus powered forward before exchanging passed with compatriot Fernandinho and it was the latter’s sublime cross that was headed home by – who else? – Sterling – inspired stuff from the boss. Kevin De Bruyne returned after a six-week lay-off to a standing ovation and this lively contest played out with efforts at either end but no further scoring in what was a satisfying win for the Blues.
What it means… City return to the top of the Premier League, at least for 24 hours or so after moving two points clear of Liverpool who face United at Anfield tomorrow.
What’s next? City take on Leicester in the Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday evening at the King Power Stadium. Then it’s back to the Etihad for the last fixture before Christmas as the Blues entertain Crystal Palace in the Premier League.
City (3): Ederson, Laporte, Otamendi, Walker, Delph, Fernandinho, Gündogan, Bernardo, Mahrez (De Bruyne 75’), Sané (Sterling 66’), Jesus