London ball

Manchester City continue after narrow win at Everton

Everton were controversially denied a late penalty as Manchester City narrowly avoided another mistake in the title race with a 1-0 win at Goodison Park.

After working to take an 82nd-minute lead through Phil Foden, VAR were asked to comment on a ball which hit midfielder Rodri’s arm.

Referee Paul Tierney hadn’t made a decision on the pitch and the off-pitch official said there was no reason to change that – much to the fury of home fans who bounced the former stadium after seeing an encouraging performance from their team.

It was a huge escape for Pep Guardiola’s side, who extended their lead over Sunday’s Carabao Cup finalists Liverpool to six points after playing one more game, and tough for the opponents who worked incredibly tough in the face of increased relegation pressure.

Everton, without striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin after failing a late fitness test with a minor groin problem, started the game just one point above the bottom three.

The club got rid of the now traditional air raid siren that prevents the game of Z-Cars in light of the conflict in Ukraine, but the atmosphere was actually probably even more emotionally charged.

Manchester City players showed their solidarity (PA)

Manchester City’s Ukrainian defender Oleksandr Zinchenko and his compatriot Vitalii Mykolenko of Everton were in tears on their respective benches as the home side emerged from the tunnel draped in Ukrainian flags with City players wearing T-shirts bearing the flag of their homeland and the words “No War” like “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” was played in the stadium.

A reaction was expected from City following their loss to Tottenham last weekend, but Pep Guardiola’s side were poor in the first half as the home side raised their game from their previous defeat at Southampton which had left them in so much trouble.

Bolstered by the return of midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure after more than a month out, the injured Everton threw themselves into tackles, pursued their opponents relentlessly and then countered when they had the chance.

The best first-half chances all fell on Frank Lampard’s side with Jonjoe Kenny firing a shot into the side netting, Richarlison firing straight at Ederson and Anthony Gordon landing a free kick on the roof of the net.

City’s biggest threat came from a three-on-two charge which was halted by Donny Van De Beek’s quick running back.

Everton v Manchester City - Premier League - Goodison Park
Jonjoe Kenny came closest in the first half (PA)

Everton’s three midfielders of Doucoure, Allan – who looked a different player to the one who was taken off at half-time last weekend – and Van De Beek were excellent in both aspects of their work, but the concern was what would happen when Doucoure inevitably tired and City unleashed their star-studded replacements.

Bernardo Silva’s vision saw him pick off Phil Foden with a low pass into the penalty area as Jordan Pickford forced his first serious save in the 56th minute as City pressure began to build.

Former Everton defender John Stones was next to test the England goalkeeper from range, although his reaction save from Silva after initially blocking Kevin De Bruyne’s shot showed a touch of brilliance.

Dele Alli came on for Van De Beek, who had made a commendable defensive effort, and Gray came on for Anthony Gordon, but Guardiola didn’t make any changes until the final 15 minutes when he sent on Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez.

Everton v Manchester City - Premier League - Goodison Park
Phil Foden was the winner of the match (PA)

The pressure was finally told eight minutes from time when Michael Keane crucially missed a deflected cross at the edge of his own six-yard box and Foden took full advantage.

There was still time for penalty controversy, but Lampard will take big heart out of this performance.

Guardiola, however, would have been grateful with a comeback and escaped with three points.