City staged a stirring second half fightback as goals from Phil Foden, Julian Alvarez (penalty) and Bernardo Silva helped secure a priceless 3-1 win at Everton and move the newly crowned world champions into the top four of the Premier League.

On our return to domestic action after last week’s FIFA Club World Cup heroics in Saudi Arabia, City had trailed at the break to Jack Harrison’s first half strike.

But, just as in our last league away game at Luton, the defending champions showed we can marry grit and character alongside out talent by roaring back in the second half.

First Foden levelled affairs on 53 minutes with a superb long-range strike.

Alvarez then stepped up the turnaround by converting a 64th minute penalty after Amadou Onana had handled a Nathan Ake shot in the box.

And victory was sealed three minutes from time when Bernardo curled home a brilliant 87th minute effort from outside the box after Jordan Pickford had made a hash of an attempted clearance

What happened

A Wednesday night assignment at a resurgent Everton always represented a tough test and the late December clash was made all the more testing by the effects of Storm Gerrit with wind and intermittent rain buffeting this corner of Merseyside.

ACTION MAN: Jack Grealish drives forward for City.
ACTION MAN: Jack Grealish drives forward for City.

However, it was the newly crowned world champions who made the brighter start, in spite of what was a trademark bearpit Goodison atmosphere.

City dominated the opening 20 minutes or so, with Julian Alvarez forcing a smart fourth minute near post save from Everton and England keeper Jordan Pickford after a deft through ball from Jack Grealish.

Pickford was there again to frustrate City on 14 minutes after Alvarez picked out the advancing Matheus Nunes with the Argentine striker then sending his instant follow up just the wrong side of the post.

Grealish was next to test the reflexes of Pickford on 24 minutes, the England winger drawing out a fine left-handed save from his Three Lions after fizzing in a goal bound dink with the outside of his left foot.

It had been all City – yet it was the hosts who made the breakthrough just shy of the half hour.

City lost possession with Rodri’s attempted pass back in the box falling short of Akanji. It allowed the waiting Dwight McNeill the opportunity to cross the ball low into the heart of the box where former City youngster Jack Harrison converted from close range.

Three minutes later Ederson then produced a quite stunning world class save to deny Harrsion a second after the Everton man unleashed a curling effort with the outside of his left foot which was bound for the top left-hand corner of the net.

MIDDLE MARCH: Matheus Nunes drives on for City.
MIDDLE MARCH: Matheus Nunes drives on for City.

Thankfully, the Brazilian keeper leapt hight and tipped the ball over the ball with his outstretched left hand for a quite wonderful save.

There was a further blow for City when John Stones picked up an ankle injury which eventually forced him to be taken off after tangling with Beto when the Everton man chased a long through ball only for the flag to subsequently go up for offside.

City came out for the second half with a marked increased intensity and impetus and that emboldened approach drew dividends when we drew level on 52 minutes thanks to a wonderful strike from Foden.

After a probing move around the edge of the Toffees box, Bernardo found Foden lurking 22 yards outside the box and the England man unleashed a fantastic low drive that whistled past Pickford into the corner of the net.

It was a majestic strike and one befitting of world champions and Foden and City almost struck again a minute later only for his attempt to meet Alvarez’s low cross going agonisingly wide.

Suddenly City were laying siege to the Everton goal with Pickford having to scramble to palm away an Alvarez free-kick.

A resurgent City though were not to be denied took the lead through a 63nd minute Alvarez penalty after Andre Onana blocked a goal bound Nathan Ake drive with his outstretched arm.

WATCHING BRIEF: The rival managers look on.
WATCHING BRIEF: The rival managers look on.

Pickford picked up a yellow card for gamesmanship as he sought to put Alvarez off but the Argentine kept his cool to fire home and give Guardiola’s side a deserved lead.

The game was far from done though and City breathed a sigh of relief when Everton sub Dominic Calvert-Lewin sent a close range effort just the wrong side of the target after McNeil had whipped in a teasing cross from the right flank.

But victory was sealed three minutes from time thanks to a stunning Bernardo strike.

Pickford made a hash of an attempted pass out from the box and Bernardo wrestled possession before, spotting the Everton keeper out of his box, executed a brilliant curling effort into the empty net.

Foden almost capped a stellar night’s work with another goal only to see a powerful drive hit the post but that could not detract from what felt like a huge and significant result on Merseyside.

TEAMS

EVERTON: Pickford, Patterson, Tarkowski, Branthwaite, Mykolenko, Gomes (Keane 64), Onana, Harrison, Garner, McNeil, Beto (Calvert-Lewin 64).

Subs: Hunt, Dobbin, Coleman, Chermiti, Godfrey, Danjuma, Virginia.

CITY XI: Ederson, Walker (c), Stones (Gvardiol 42), Akanji, Ake, Rodrigo, Nunes (Kovacic 64), Bernardo, Foden, Grealish, Alvarez

Subs: Ortega, Phillips, Gómez, Bobb, Susoho, Lewis, Hamilton

LEVEL BEST: Phil Foden fires home for City.
LEVEL BEST: Phil Foden fires home for City.

Man of the match

Phil Foden kept up the exquisite form he showed out in Saudi Arabia and, in the process, maintained his brilliant record against the Toffees.

His Goodison strike represented his fourth Premier League goal against Everton.

The England man has only netted more goals against Brighton (6) having also registered four against Manchester United.

Foden also netted the opening goal at Goodison Park in February 2021 and February 2022.

On this form there are plenty more goals in store it feels.

The Pep factor

This latest victory also extended Pep Guardiola’s remarkable record against Sean Dyche.

In 14 match ups with the Everton and former Burnley boss, the City manager has now racked up 13 wins and just one draw.

In the process Pep’s City have registered 32 goals conceding just twice.

A staggering stat.

JOY: The City players salute Phil Foden after his equaliser.
JOY: The City players salute Phil Foden after his equaliser.

Pep’s verdict

“It was a massive win for us after where we came from Saudi as world champions. I’m really pleased.

“We went down and how we react, these players the mentality that we have all of us in our bones.

“We want to be there, I know we aren’t top and lots can happen in the Premier League.

“Every game the mid table can beat anyone, there will be lots of surprises. We’re pleased for the victory and the way we played

“In the second half we increased our rhythm and played more direct to the wingers. It was really good.”

Phil Foden’s verdict

“I thought we played well in the first half, it seemed to be the same story as the previous games but the manager told us to keep believing.

“We haven’t got this gold badge (Club World Cup winners motif) for no reason. We have to believe in ourselves because we’re a top team.

“In the second half, wow, I think we blew them away with how we played. We have to praise Everton too as they did well, they’re a good side and made it difficult.

“I’m really happy with the result at a difficult place to come.”

SPOT ON: Julian Alvarez fires home from the penalty spot.
SPOT ON: Julian Alvarez fires home from the penalty spot.

What it means

Victory moves the reigning champions up into fourth place in the Premier League table.

We have 37 points from 18 games and lie five points behind leaders Liverpool though we also boast a game in hand on the Anfield side.

Aston Villa are third with 39 points from 19 games with Arsenal second on 40 minutes from 18 games.

Premier League
3 Aston Villa FC Aston Villa A Villa 19 12 3 4 40 25 15 39 WWWDL
4 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 18 11 4 3 43 21 22 37 DLWDW
5 Tottenham Hotspur Spurs 19 11 3 5 39 28 11 36 LWWWL
Last updated: 29 December 2023

GET IN: Julian Alvarez celebrates after his penalty
GET IN: Julian Alvarez celebrates after his penalty

What’s next

City round off an incredible and historic 2023 on Saturday when we play host to Sheffield United at the Etihad.

Kick-off for the clash with Blades is set for 15.00pm (UK) as Pep Guardiola’s side seek to bring the curtain down on what has been an amazing 12 months in winning style.

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