Everton 4 - 0 Manchester City
Lord knows it hasn't been easy being an Evertonian for much of the last three decades but the intervening period since the Blues' glory days of mid-1980s has certainly been punctuated by moments, special matches and turns of events that remind you why this football club is so deeply embedded in your heart and your soul and why you keep coming back.
This was one of those matches and much more; an almost perfect afternoon which layered on memorable moment after memorable moment, building to a crescendo as Everton inflicted on Pep Guardiola the heaviest defeat of his much-lauded managerial career. It was the Spaniard's first match at Goodison Park and, as images of him sitting slumped and shell-shocked in the dugout amid a rocking, triumphant atmosphere illustrated, it's one that will live long in his memory, too.
Had nothing of note happened for the 56 minutes after Romelu Lukaku put the Blues into the lead, the game would likely have been a special enough occasion in its own right. It had started with pre-match poignancy as the Belgian carried Bradley Lowery, the little Sunderland fan diagnosed with Neuroblastoma who was mascot for the day, onto the field, followed by a minute's applause for Graham Taylor and Jim Greenwood, both of whom passed away last week.
Those heart-warming moments coupled with a 1-0 win, delivered by a well-worked, expertly finished goal and underscoring the incremental progress being made under Ronald Koeman, would have represented a lovely afternoon for the home fans on their own. What unfolded was as unexpected as it was thrilling.
The days leading up the game had been dominated by the arrival of Morgan Schneiderlin and the hope that, following last weekend's chastening cup exit at the hands of Leicester and the manner of it, the Frenchman might be able to make an instant impact to mark the next phase of Koeman's rebuilding process.
The expectation and, perhaps, fear was that the new signing would replace Tom Davies if he were deemed to fit enough to start; in the end, while he was named on the bench and came on after 65 minutes to replace Kevin Mirallas, his appearance was a footnote in the narrative of this game as Davies took top billing on a day full of potential headlines.
The 18-year-old midfielder retained in his place in the side alongside Gareth Barry in a line-up that featured just one change from last weekend, that of Mirallas for Enner Valencia, and had by the final whistle come of age with a personal performance to savour.
It was his anticipation of Gael Clichy's forward pass and beautifully-weighted forward pass to Mirallas that split three opposition players down the right channel that created the first goal and illustrated his versatility as a central midfielder. The Belgian's cutback to his compatriot near the penalty spot was perfect and Lukaku side-footed confidently past the wrong-footed Claudio Bravo to make it 1-0 in the 34th minute.
It was Everton's first real chance of the match — an equally good move that ended with Mirallas tapping home from close range had been pulled back for offside on Seamus Coleman earlier in the half — which was a reflection of how this contest had been expected to play out: City controlling possession, carving out the bulk of the chances and the hosts needing to take the chances that fell their way.
Guardiola's side had indeed looked the more likely to score up to that point even if Everton were determined not to make it easy for them. The Blues were tenacious from the first whistle — Mason Holgate, excellent throughout, had stamped his authority on Sergio Agüero after just 22 seconds with a robust tackle and it took Davies just six minutes to get his first warning from Mark Clattenburg when he fouled Raheem Sterling.
City were left smarting in the 12th minute, however, when Sterling went down in the box, apparently clipped by Joel Robles as he tried to dribble his way to goal. Television replays would reveal the Spanish ‘keeper did make contact with the winger's leg but Leighton Baines's covering tackle that trapped the ball largely rendered the argument moot — he wouldn't have scored even if he'd kept his feet.
If the visitors felt aggrieved going into the break a goal down, it was down to Robles, who kept his place despite Maarten Stekelenburg's return to fitness, and Davies who ensured the Blues took a clean sheet into half time. The ‘keeper saved Sterling's volley from close range from a floated ball over the top of the defence and then did brilliantly to save at the feet of David Silva in similar circumstances after Ramiro Funes Mori had been caught out trying to rampage through midfield.
Davies, meanwhile, was perfectly placed on his own goal line in first-half stoppage time to head Bacary Sagna's looping header away after the fullback had been picked out by a deep cross from the left by Clichy.
Any attempt by City to get back into the game early in the second half was cut off the knees superbly by Everton who doubled the lead within two minutes of the restart and then took a stranglehold on the contest as every player in royal blue seemed to grow in stature.
Barry knocked the ball away from Yaya Toure in the centre circle to Lukaku and though his slide-rule pass aimed for Mirallas was cut out by John Stones's almost telescopic leg, the ball broke to Barkley who quickly played the latter Belgian in on the edge of the box. Mirallas, whose personal rejuvenation under Koeman's stewardship over the past month has perhaps flown under the radar, checked his run masterfully to stay onside and made no mistake with the opportunity, rifling a low shot into the far corner to make it 2-0.
That almost nothing of note in terms of chances happened for the next half an hour was testament to the way in which City's much-touted attack had been completely stifled. Funes Mori had settled down following a couple of rash moments in the first half, Ashley Williams was enjoying one of his best displays in an Everton shirt so far and both Davies and Barry were suffocating De Bruyne in the middle of the park, a player who cost about the same amount as the Toffees' starting XI combined.
Barkley, meanwhile, shrugged off a chequered first period of his own where he had let himself down with some poor forward distribution to play a vital role in what was a sublime third goal 11 minutes from time, one which may end up being one of the most viewed Everton goals of the past few years.
Holgate dispossessed Sterling just outside his own area, Davies picked up the loose ball and took off down the right flank. Leaving Clichy and Touré for dead with an audacious “Ronaldo chop” on the touchline, his role in the attack seemed to have been ended by a collision with Stones. The teenager sensed opportunity, however, picked himself up in time to collect another precise Barkley pass and picked his moment to clip the ball over the advancing Bravo. Time seemed to slow down as it bounced goal-wards by the near post, Lukaku arriving to make sure the spin on the ball didn't carry it wide before Davies wheeled away in almost incredulous celebration in front of the Gwladys Street end.
A brilliant first ever goal for a player already rapidly blossoming into an Everton star felt like the icing on the cake but just when you felt it couldn't get any better, the day had one last moment of magic to offer after Robles had saved well from Agüero and Lukaku had cut a left-foot shot across goal from a tight angle.
Koeman sent new signing Ademola Lookman on in the 89th minute to savour the atmosphere and get a few minutes under his belt as an Everton player but within minutes he would etch his name onto a fabulous Blues performance with a moment of anticipation and a confident finish that rounded out the win in style.
In a similar fashion to Everton under Roberto Martinez, City had spent much of the first half trying to play their way out from the back, sometimes in the most risk-defying manner, so it was ironic that Stones's attempt to just knock the ball into the stands in the final minute of stoppage time ricocheted off Coleman and bounced into Lookman's path. The 19-year-old took one touch to put the ball in front of him and then buried a shot between the ‘keeper's legs before he, too, made for the Street end in elation, knee-sliding towards the corner flag before being mobbed by his team-mates. Robles ran the length of the field to join the party as Lukaku bear-hugged the stunned teenager, the celebrations the last act before Clattenburg blew the final whistle as demoralised City kicked off for the final time.
More so than the win over Arsenal a month ago, where the Blues seemed to turn the game on its head through force of will; Evertonians will hope this is a transformative moment in Koeman's first season. Certainly, the precocious impact of Davies, the freedom his presence seems to afford Barkley, the increasingly prominent leadership role Lukaku appears to be adopting, Mirallas's revival and the emergence of a solid defensive three in the form of Williams; Holgate and Funes Mori, means it has the potential to be.
It should not be overlooked that City came into this fixture on the back of a 5-0 FA Cup demolition of West Ham away from home and with their title credentials intact despite defeat to Leicester last month. Everton, meanwhile, supposedly had nothing to play for after being dumped out the cup.
Questions still remain over the team's mentality when the chips are down — last weekend's cup defeat came not long after the festive-season wins over the Gunners and Foxes — and its ability to unlock more entrenched, less charitable defences when the onus will be on them to attack and create rather than absorb pressure and prey ruthlessly on opposition errors. The solutions there may yet lie in the transfer market but the evidence that the current personnel are finally adapting to the manager's methods and are growing in confidence as a result certainly bodes well for a season that is not over despite the gloom that was pervasive last weekend.
And even if it were, the possibilities would still exist for moments like the ones served up on a transcendent afternoon at the Grand Old Lady. More performances like today and Koeman's goal top-six goal won't be as far-fetched as it looked eight days ago.
Reader Comments (40)
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1 Posted 16/01/2017 at 23:00:55
One line did make me chuckle:
"...Lukaku arriving to make sure the spin on the ball didn't carry it wide..."
Gee, is that what he was doing? Funny, I would have guessed at a different motive, but there you are!
2 Posted 16/01/2017 at 23:12:31
I'm really enjoying seeing Lukaku take young Lookman under his wing. He had a quick chat with him before he came onto the pitch and appeared genuinely delighted when he scored. A good role model and great mentor for the kid.
4 Posted 16/01/2017 at 23:41:22
When Bart had a shot whistle wide, it should never have been a corner as Aguero spun Funes Mori to the ground aforehand.
Sterling should have walked for his disgraceful double tackle on Davies from behind where he tripped him then raked his calf deliberately.
City's play acting whinging etc showed ever-increasing desperation, and despite possession, how many times was Joel's goal threatened? We got what we deserved yesterday, as the whole team worked as a unit.
The big challenge now is introducing the consistency we require to begin challenging, as every Arsenal has been followed by a Liverpool, win at Leicester, lose at home.
I do think Koeman is a bit too forthright at times, but if he builds from yesterday, we are in for a hell of a ride.
Oh Ronnie boy, the Docks, the Docks are calling.
5 Posted 16/01/2017 at 23:56:44
A perfect day, as the late Lou Reed said.
6 Posted 16/01/2017 at 01:27:20
Plenty to look forward to.
7 Posted 17/01/2017 at 01:41:20
We have had the occasional decent result against the top teams over the last couple of decades, but somehow this one felt... different. I can't quite put my finger on why. A combination of things I guess.
The real magic is from seeing these youngsters though. Holgate, Davies, Lookman. Unspoilt by fame and fortune. Raw emerging talent with a huge desire for the game. Plus the realisation that we should no longer need to be a selling club and therefore be able to retain these potential superstars and build a future around them. Exciting times.
I saw on another thread that "City were average though" as if to play down what we achieved on Sunday.
I'm sorry, but a front 4 of Aguero, De Bruyne, Silva and Sterling, not to mention the great Yaya Toure and the second most expensive defender in the history of the game... managed by one of the most revered managers in the modern game... are in no way "average".
The fact that they were made to look as such made this victory a thing of absolute beauty!
8 Posted 17/01/2017 at 03:00:37
Let's not get too carried away though, its only one game and not the 80s again yet .. seen this all before.
Great day for Davies and Lookman, Koeman/Walsh team will take affect soon.
Good times ahead we hope, very long overdue.
9 Posted 17/01/2017 at 08:07:17
I thought Ross was excellent throughout the entire game. Perhaps everything didn't come off but he kept trying and goals 2 & 3 were created by his industry.
Also "ricocheted off Coleman and bounced into Lookman's path". If you watch the replay for Lookman's goal, the boy's instinct take him forward into the space when he senses something may happen. You can't buy or teach that and I'm looking forward to seeing more of this kid.
10 Posted 17/01/2017 at 08:49:43
For instance, Paul Scholes knew what the situation was around him. If he was not closed down he would control the game and split defences. If he was closed down quickly he knew exactly where the ball was going to go.
Ross seems to decide when the ball is at his feet. He plays some great passes but count the ones he screws up. He is not a boy any more so time for him to deliver regularly, 3 kids on the pitch on Sunday showed him how to be aware.
Gareth Barry my star man, went about his business and let the kids have their time. What a pro. Well done, Gareth.
11 Posted 17/01/2017 at 09:38:19
I woke on Sunday morning from my golden slumbers and entered my dream world â€“ another match day. I was followed on my matchday routine â€“ from New Brighton to The Dark House and into Goodison Park, with the camera set on me in The Park End â€“ all filmed by a French Sports Channel, FSF Sports.
They filmed me before the game with my Everton to win 4-0 Betting slip at 100:1... and filmed me after the game with my winnings â€“ you can see photos at Facebook | The Dark House Blues.
Who said we can't dream?
Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Yeah we all shine on,
Come on and on and on on on.
12 Posted 17/01/2017 at 10:43:49
13 Posted 17/01/2017 at 10:59:25
We have the same problem with Ross now.
14 Posted 17/01/2017 at 11:29:11
He's one of few players we possess who will even try this (Davies pass for the first goal was another example) so I don't think it's fair to criticise Ross for trying, unless we're going to criticise every long punt from the back 4 which comes to nothing.
Ross got two assists and could have had a third when Rom flashed a shot across goal in the second half. If you watch all three of those moments Ross's decision making was perfect. The two assists were simple but perfect. When he set up Rom in the second half, he has three defenders around him, brings the ball under control and lay it perfectly off for Rom. Ross makes it look easy!
I think having Davies around will help Ross, the expectation will be less on him with another Evertonian in the side. I also think Koeman might have found the right formation for the team. A 3-4-3 means Ross has a 4 man midfield behind him, so he can play as a forward. This was clear against Man City as all his best moments were at the edge of their box.
15 Posted 17/01/2017 at 11:35:12
"Television replays would reveal the Spanish â€˜keeper did make contact with the winger's leg but Leighton Baines's covering tackle that trapped the ball largely rendered the argument moot â€” he wouldn't have scored even if he'd kept his feet."
I wasn't aware of that rule.
16 Posted 17/01/2017 at 11:49:58
Hopefully the club will respond along the lines of "second word: off".
17 Posted 17/01/2017 at 12:01:10
The accolades were sprinkled in many areas and after the previous win over Southampton we now have cause to think optimistically for the rest of the season if not the future of the club.
Whilst one swallow doesn't make a Summer, the eventual dismantling of Man City goes a long way considering how they totally took us to the cleaners at the Etihad in all but the scoreline.
Palace up next and they are really desperate so can Koeman keep the attitude and momentum going? We shall see...
18 Posted 17/01/2017 at 12:04:41
I must admit as well that when Lookman scored I got a little bit emotional. After reading the kid's story (playing Sunday league in 2014 to playing Premier League in 2017) it really got me that he managed to get a goal on his debut within a minute of coming on. What dreams are made of.
19 Posted 17/01/2017 at 12:33:25
20 Posted 17/01/2017 at 12:34:46
Jason Euell (ex Wimbledon) was his coach at Under-21 level for Charlton and he said they found him playing Sunday league for Waterloo FC here in south London (I'm near Crystal Palace) where he had never had any proper coaching at all - nothing.
Everything you see in Lookman with regard to his positional sense, and his raw ability is natural. He hasn't had much coached into him until his 3-year scholarship with Charlton before that he was a street footballer.
We'll probably notice this increasingly in his first season in the Premier League, as there are elements of football at a higher level that he may not grasp initially. As a raw talent though, he has it clearly the kid can finish as we've seen already, and with both feet. He has that natural anticipation about what's going to happen that you can't really teach a player too.
21 Posted 17/01/2017 at 13:07:18
Definition: football is now a non-contact sport.
22 Posted 17/01/2017 at 14:15:55
He was in his rights to book Davies for a second time and send him off but he ignored the celebration and walked back to the centre circle. I would like to think that he didn't want to spoil a joyous occasion for the lad rather than swerve the verbal battering he might get on MotD from the pundits, before, of course, they would agree that he had no choice but to send him off.
Did anyone else notice or consider this an act of common sense by Clattenberg?
23 Posted 17/01/2017 at 14:29:39
Oh, and I think he's alright.
24 Posted 17/01/2017 at 14:30:01
If he'd sent Davies off he would have been lynched outside Goodison and he probably knew it plus he would never have been able to set foot on Merseyside as long as he lives!
Common sense does sometimes prevail, and Davies deserved his moment of glory, even in the eyes of Battenburg.
25 Posted 17/01/2017 at 14:31:52
Great performance and great result.
Let's use this as a spring board, we still need additional and better quality players to keep us moving forward.
26 Posted 17/01/2017 at 14:39:42
Still, I thought Clattenburg had a good game and clearly used his common sense not to book the lad celebrating a momentous moment in his life.
I think we were fortunate with the penalty incident though; if that had been Atkinson, it would've been given.
27 Posted 17/01/2017 at 14:56:30
The penalty incident perhaps did go our way, but an official shouldn't award a spot-kick unless he is absolutely certain a foul has been committed.
However, I can't say that the Referee had a good game, he seemed hell bent on giving every 50/50 decision to Man City and missed a couple of fouls by City players during the game. He has become a better ref in the last few years but like most of them, he is still starry-eyed when it comes to the monied elite teams.
His cohort on the Goodison Road touch-line couldn't give even the most obvious of throw-ins on a number of occasions, until Clattenberg had signalled which team should have the the throw-in.
28 Posted 17/01/2017 at 15:29:28
If we can dish out this kind of performance, starting at Palace this weekend, and going on a run into European contention it will take a remarkable feat given other recent results we have had to suffer so far, we Evertonians have learned to expect that highs are too often followed by lows so it will be everything crossed...
The Kids Did Good, keep it up lads.
29 Posted 17/01/2017 at 15:39:15
30 Posted 17/01/2017 at 15:40:50
31 Posted 17/01/2017 at 15:43:00
I guess Carragher was implying that we were lucky that Man City had a poor goalkeeper between the sticks.
32 Posted 17/01/2017 at 16:05:36
Thanks for those who pointed out the error in my post (smug gets). Still, he could have booked Davies and chose not to...
33 Posted 17/01/2017 at 16:18:36
Firstly, I don't think for one minute Mr Moshiri will settle for Croxteth. Not a chance. As well as a considerable steely resolve, shown to us for the first time at the AGM, there is romance in the man. Why else buy Everton?
There are plenty of bumps on the road to Bramley-Moore Dock. There are considerable engineering challenges (the area isn't even dry land, it's reclaimed river) and we have those vipers at Peel who will see this as an opportunity for another freebie pay day â€“ no doubt they will try to ransom the place.
But anyway, in spite of all the risks, I'll kick off with a few suggestions of my own...
Bearpit-on-Sea, or The Bearpit Stadium maybe?
34 Posted 17/01/2017 at 16:48:24
35 Posted 17/01/2017 at 17:06:49
I thought he was booking Davies for the foul, he called him over and reached into his pocket, then spoke to Tom and after he had spoken to him marked the spot for the free kick with the marker he taken out of his pocket.
It was an easy mistake to make going by the referees actions.
36 Posted 17/01/2017 at 18:06:03
37 Posted 17/01/2017 at 18:46:58
Apart from the obvious penalty, Clattenberg had a decent game.
Not one of Davies's challenges (that some say he was lucky) warranted a booking in my opinion , mistimed is all they were.
Why? â€“ because a good referee would know this is an 18-year-old local lad looking to make a big impression and grab his big chance in the rough and tumble goings on of middle of the football pitch, all in front of his family and home crowd â€“ a young man full of youthful inexperience playing against top class very accomplished opposition... not getting booked was sensible referring in my opinion.
I'd say young Davies may have had a word in his ear... next time it could be different!
38 Posted 17/01/2017 at 18:52:56
The talent, hunger and ability is there in spades but we have allow them to mature evolve and eventually become Everton greats. I have been shouting for Koeman to play the boys, even if we get beat now and then. We certainly wont get relegated, and we have more youngsters to come to come, but it will take time and patience from all.
We are now on the right path, and I think we are in safe hands. COYB
40 Posted 17/01/2017 at 21:15:19
Which makes the Leicester performance by almost the same team a week earlier the more frustrating and puzzling. One win on the run again. The last time we won two games running was in mid-September. A long way to go, Ronald...
41 Posted 18/01/2017 at 09:01:22
I have always thought he was playing out of position on the wing he is a second striker. That was his position at Olympiakos.
For the first two goals, it was Mirallas who unlocked the City offside lines by waiting and timing his run perfectly with great awareness of what was going on behind him. His pass to Lukaku for the first was absolutely top class.
Like Liam (#9) and James (#20) says you can teach a footballer how to be a predator. It's almost a sixth sense. When Lookman saw Coleman pressing Stones he backed his team mate by heading for the "killing ground" and he was rewarded accordingly.
So much to be happy about after that performance but I have to say, once again, a picture is worth a thousand words. Look at Lukaku he is obviously overjoyed for young Lookman. What a difference from when he "clapped" Baines' penalty the other week.
Perhaps the tide has really turned.
42 Posted 18/01/2017 at 14:36:08
*I have actually got some mates, honest.
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