Guardiola banishes Everton hoodoo with easy win

Saturday, 31 March, 2018 0comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1 - 3 Manchester City

Yannick Bolasie's first goal of the season was scant consolation on an afternoon where Everton were comprehensively beaten

Everton succumbed in expected fashion to the Manchester City juggernaut, going down to a 3-1 defeat at Goodison Park.

Buoyed by a solid home record under Sam Allardyce, the Blues were hoping to extend Pep Guardiola's frustrations when facing them in the Premier League but the Spaniard's team dismantled their hosts with a dominant first-half display.

With their maestro David Silva pulling the strings in midfield and Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling providing the energy in forward areas, the Champions-elect had no need for a conventional striker as they carved Everton up three times before half time.

The Blues improved slightly after the break once City had taken their foot off the accelerator and Yannick Bolasie scored what proved to be a consolation goal rather than the catalyst for a dramatic fight back 18 minutes after the break.

Shorn of the work rate and tenacity of Idrissa Gueye and Gylfi Sigurdsson in midfield, Allardyce recalled Morgan Schneiderlin and deployed Wayne Rooney alongside him, in a formation that included three attack-minded players Bolasie, Theo Walcott and Dominic Calvert-Lewin playing behind Cenk Tosun.

Everton were quickly overrun in the middle of the park, however, and

there were just four minutes on the clock in the first period when Silva engineered the opening goal, picking up a return pass to get to the byline and cut the ball back for Leroy Sané to despatch a crisp volley inside Jordan Pickford's near post.

It's unlikely, given the early pattern of the contest, that the 12th minute could be looked back upon as a turning point but it underscored the stark differences in execution between the two sides.

At one end, Calvert-Lewin managed to keep the ball in to clip a teasing cross for Bolasie but the winger planted a free header over the crossbar from close range. Starting with goalkeeper Ederson, the visitors broke attacked swiftly from the resulting free kick and had doubled their lead within seconds. Sané sent Kevin de Bruyne clear down the right and Gabriel Jesus buried his accurate centre with a strong header.

Silva saw one effort deflect off Phil Jagielka into the side-netting and drilled narrowly wide from a similar position later in the half while Kyle Walker scuffed a good chance to make it 3-0 as City continued their offensive posture. Everton, meanwhile, went close themselves when Leighton Baines curled a direct free kick the wrong side of the post after Walcott had been tripped outside the box.

Guardiola's men eventually got the killer third eight minutes before half time. An Everton attack broke down in City's defensive third and, again, the visitors countered quickly as Silva was released into space down their left flank. With Michael Keane struggled to keep pace, the Spaniard's low centre found Sterling in the middle and he swept home despite a last-ditch lunge by Baines.

11 minutes after half time, Fernandinho almost made it 4-0 when his speculative drive from outside the box took a heavy deflection off Calvert-Lewin, wrong-footing Pickford but the England international got a strong palm to the ball to divert it to safety.

Great work by Tom Davies, a 57th-minute introduction for Rooney, then paved the way for Everton's goal. He squared the ball to Calvert-Lewin who fed Bolasie and the Congolese winger squeezed a shot from the edge of the area that caught the edge of one post and bounced in off the other.

Tosun headed a foot or so wide from a corner three minutes later that would have made a game of it had it gone in; instead, City coasted to a victory that brings them to within one win of the title.

For the Toffees, it was probably an “expected loss” in almost every way, with a repeat of last season's dream result a distant proposition from the outset. The feeling of futility and wishing that this season could j=ust end was reflected in the growing expanses of empty seats inside Goodison as the second half wore on.


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