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Manchester City 2-0 Everton
by James Nalton
ON HIS first home start since returning from injury, Erling Haaland was the difference for Manchester City in their victory against Everton on Saturday.
With their game in hand on Liverpool and Arsenal, City remain strongly positioned to end up at the top of the Premier League table.
Now Haaland is firing again and Kevin De Bruyne is back in the mix, they look even stronger.
The game was initially uneventful, but there was an interesting City team shape in the first half which saw Manuel Akanji roaming from centre-back and John Stones also occasionally joining the midfield from right-back.
The shape of the City team meant Everton had little chance of scoring on the counter, but for a long time in this game, it looked like there would be no goals at either end.
Everton themselves were defensively solid in their usual 4-4-1-1 shape, meaning clear-cut chances were few.
For all the tactical tinkering, it was the striking instincts and then the pace and power of Haaland that won the game for City.
The first goal came from a scrappy second-half corner with 20 minutes to go. Everton failed to clear, and it fell to the feet of the last person they would want it to fall to. Haaland blasted it in right-footed.
Haaland’s second came from a De Bruyne pass, but there was still plenty to do for the Norwegian as he took the ball in considerable stride just inside the opposition half.
He had to beat one defender, usually meat and drink for Haaland, but on this occasion, it was the equally towering Jarrad Branthwaite who had defended well until that point.
On this occasion, though, Branthwaite, who was limping having picked up a knock making a tackle on Haaland earlier in the game, was brushed aside, tripping following a tangle of legs as he tried to get to grips with the Scandinavian powerhouse, falling to the floor in his wake.
Haaland still had Jordan Pickford to beat. He had missed a one-on-one in the last game against Brentford but made no mistake this time, firing low past Pickford.
City’s bench depth included De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, and Bernardo Silva and was always likely to be used to win the game if they were struggling to break Everton down. But in the end, it was Haaland who proved to be the difference.
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