Man City wear down Everton to make it three from three

Kolarov and Nasri on target as Pellegrini’s side show title credentials at Goodison Park

Aleksandar Kolarov broke the deadlock at Goodison Park setting up Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Everton. Photograph: PA

Aleksandar Kolarov broke the deadlock at Goodison Park setting up Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Everton. Photograph: PA

 

Everton 0 Manchester City 2

For once it was not the usual hyperbole from Roberto Martínez when he previewed Manchester City’s arrival at Goodison Park and declared that Manuel Pellegrini’s team had announced their championship credentials after only two games. The argument remains intact after three.

City maintained their flawless start to the new campaign with another solid team performance and another impressive victory as second-half goals from Aleksandar Kolarov and Samir Nasri punctured Everton. The home side had their moments but the visitors possessed the class and, crucially after last term’s indifferent title defence, the appetite to fight for every second ball, every challenge, every point. It is very early days, of course, but City already appear a level apart.

The first half lacked goals but was an absorbing affair that showcased the early-season quality of both sides. Everton were pinned back frequently and had to be patient as City, through the mesmerising double act of David Silva and Sergio Agüero, wove their intricate patterns on the edge of the home penalty area and dominated possession. Yet Tim Howard. Phil Jagielka and the focused John Stones held firm for an hour and, as in the 3-0 win at Southampton last weekend, Martínez’s side carried a potent threat of their own on the counterattack. Tom Cleverley’s quick feet and thinking allied to Arouna Koné’s tireless running ensured that Romelu Lukaku was not the only preoccupation for City’s diligent defence.

Agüero began in the same menacing fashion that broke Chelsea last Sunday.

Only 80 seconds had elapsed when he forced Howard to save with his legs with a blistering shot from a tight angle. He was again denied by the Everton goalkeeper after peeling away from Jagielka to meet an inviting cross from Jesús Navas with another low drive. Howard also saved from Silva and saw Raheem Sterling just missed the Spaniard’s pass across the face of goal, and all before Everton had orchestrated an attack of their own.

Ross Barkley posed the first test to Joe Hart and was instrumental in carrying the game to City whenever Everton broke. The England international’s confidence appears visibly improved after two goals in the opening two games of the season and it was his pass that led to Lukaku side-stepping Hart and converting past two City defenders on the goal-line. Unfortunately for the Belgium international, an eagle-eyed assistant referee had spotted he was fractionally offside as Barkley played the ball.

Seamus Coleman went close, Barkley wastefully skied a dangerous free-kick from 20 yards and Lukaku shaved the crossbar with another set-piece attempt with Hart rooted to the spot.

Pellegrini’s team controlled much of the contest without recreating the heights of their display against Chelsea. Yaya Touré’s evident discomfort was a factor, with the Ivory Coast international requiring lengthy treatment to his groin in the warm-up and being restricted in his movement – though not his sublime touch – throughout. But in Navas and particularly Sterling, afforded the inevitable ex-Liverpool reception by the Everton faithful, City had the pace to penetrate and force the home defence deep. The former Anfield man made an influential mark on his Merseyside return.

With an hour gone City turned the tables on Everton and hit on the counter. Agüero released Sterling down the left and the winger waited for Stones to commit himself in the area before rolling a superb pass into the overlapping Kolarov on his blind side. The left-back, played onside by Jagielka, shaped to cross but steered a fine finish inside Howard’s near post instead. Otherwise commanding, the USA international was beaten too easily.

But for a brief flurry, when Vincent Kompany cleared off the line from a Gareth Barry header, Everton failed to produce a convincing response. The game was settled with two minutes remaining when the substitute Nasri played a neat one-two with Touré and, with the struggling James McCarthy guilty of ball-watching, raced onto the midfielder’s glorious flick to loft the ball over Howard. It was another impressive statement of intent from the men from the Etihad Stadium.

(Guardian service)

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