Manchester City just one win from title as Everton brushed aside
Guardiola’s side can become quickest Premier League champions with a win over Manchester United next Saturday
Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling scores his side’s third goal despite the challenge of Everton’s Leighton Baines during the Premier League match at Goodison Park. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA Wire
Everton 1 Manchester City 3
Manchester City are just one win away from securing the Premier League title after a 3-1 victory over Everton at Goodison Park.
Manager Pep Guardiola now has the delicious prospect of lifting his first championship since arriving in England almost two years ago in front of City’s own fans against arch-rivals Manchester United next weekend.
Goals from Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling – Yannick Bolasie responding for the hosts – set up the chance for City to become the quickest side to clinch the Premier League with six matches remaining as a win next week will beat United’s 2000-01 record by one game.
But first they must return to Merseyside in midweek for the eagerly-awaited Champions League quarter-final first leg against Liverpool.
They are unlikely to get as easy a ride at Anfield, where they suffered their only Premier League loss to date in January.
Fourteen months ago Goodison was the scene for Guardiola’s heaviest league defeat as a manager but there was never any chance of that 4-0 reverse being repeated.
City had 82 per cent possession in the first half, yet incredibly managed only three shots on target. Unfortunately for Everton three was all they needed.
Sam Allardyce’s tactics and team selection, with the pedestrian pair of Morgan Schneiderlin and Wayne Rooney on defensive midfield duties giving their mercurial visitors all the encouragement they needed, looked confused.
When they actually got out onto the pitch it was even more evident once City started pinging the passes around and Guardiola’s plan of having only three men in the penalty area for attacking corners resulted in plenty of head-scratching among Everton’s defensive ranks.
Less than four minutes had elapsed when they were exposed for the first of many occasions as Sane walloped home a left-footed from David Silva’s far-post cross.
The hosts had the chance for a quick response but Bolasie wastefully headed over from Theo Walcott’s cut-back.
To emphasise just how significant a moment it was City went straight down the other end with Kevin de Bruyne breaking forward to cross for Jesus to head home.
For all their dominance City’s greatest threat was on the counter-attack and when, in the 37th minute, they burst forward again in a three-on-three Silva made the most of what was possibly a favourable offside decision to slide in a pass for Sterling’s 21st of the season.
Having seen Everton complete just 59 passes – City midfielder Fernandinho was successful with 62 just by himself – a number of fans in the Gwladys Street and Park End opted not to return for the second half with pockets of blue seats clearly visible.
They missed Bolasie beat goalkeeper Ederson from distance, via the foot of both posts, just past the hour shortly after the introduction of Tom Davies replaced Rooney to add some much-needed drive to midfield.
But City still coasted to victory despite never getting out of second gear after the break. Their 13th away league victory of the season set a new club record – but Guardiola’s side have their eyes on much bigger prizes.