This was the definition of grinding out a win, but that’s what champions have to do.
Manchester City beat a spirited Everton side tonight thanks to goals at the end of both halves. Aymeric Laporte headed home a David Silva free kick with the last action of the first half, before Kevin De Bruyne set up Gabriel Jesus deep into 7 added minutes at the end of the game to seal a 2-0 win.
It wasn’t pretty and City were below their very best, but it was job done and the Blues go top of the league on goal difference.
Here’s how we rated the players tonight.
Ederson – 7
Everton often threatened tonight without having many actual shots on goal, but Ederson was strong in his box when called upon, claiming the ball. After a mistake by Walker in the second half, the Brazilian was quick off the mark to snuff out a potential Everton equaliser.
Kyle Walker – 6
One bad mistake brings down his mark and unfortunately that’s something we’re used to with Walker. However, when all was said and done the England right-back put in a lot of defensive work tonight, making 4 successful tackles and 3 interceptions. His mistake will be highlighted but otherwise he was part of a solid City back-line this evening.
John Stones – 7
On his latest return to Goodison, Stones had a very good game and was calm even as the home crowd became louder. A very assured, solid performance by a player who has matured greatly in the Guardiola era and is much better than when he left Everton.
Nicolas Otamendi – 7
A huge presence at the back tonight, Nico made 8 clearances, 4 interceptions and 3 tackles. A very resolute defensive performance – and this wasn’t an incapable Everton side, they often pressed forward and forced City’s defence to work hard. Otamendi has his off days, but in games like this he is crucial.
Aymeric Laporte – 8.5 (Man of the Match)
Starting at left-back, not for the first time this season, Laporte was outstanding in all departments. Passing, defending and… scoring! Yes, it was Laporte’s beautifully directed header just before half-time that made the difference. Like Stones, Otamendi and Walker, he also made a big defensive contribution tonight.
Fernandinho – 7.5
In we were rating his sh**housery, Fernandinho would score a perfect 10 tonight, much like Dzeko did some years back at Goodison. The Brazilian was crafty, and we’ll say it outright – dirty. He was eventually handed a yellow card but should have gotten it earlier. But that is one of the veteran’s skills, the ability to do the dirty work with tactical fouls, while not getting sent off. As always, his passing and defensive work were also good.
Ilkay Gundogan – 7.5
Another very good performance by the German who is showing some of his best form since arriving at City. Hit the bar in the first half and probably should have had a penalty was pulled back. He contributed a lot going forward and worked very hard for the team.
David Silva – 6.5
Silva is still a quality midfielder but there are finally signs that he may no longer be among the very elite, as he doesn’t run the game like he once did. With that said, it was his delightful free kick that led to City’s opener, finding the head of Laporte. Otherwise, he was good in patches, quiet in others.
Bernardo Silva – 7
Pep’s ‘undroppable’ was positioned on the right wing tonight when many thought Mahrez might finally get a league start. He isn’t the direct threat that Sané and Sterling can be, but his intelligent play, ability to link up with others, and endless work rate make him crucial to what Pep demands from his side.
Leroy Sané – 5.5
Today’s only real disappointment was Leroy, who was largely ineffective against a side he has had some joy against in the past. Guardiola hauled him off quite early in the second half, noticing it just wasn’t going to be the German’s day.
Sergio Aguero – 6
Starved of service today, meaning his good run of goal scoring form came to an end. He did work hard and when his chance came, he pulled off an overhead kick which went just wide of Jordan Pickford’s goal.
Raheem Sterling – 6.5
Much better than the man he replaced, Sané, and posed a threat to Everton’s defence.
Gabriel Jesus – 7
Including added time, he had about 17 minutes on the pitch and made it count, getting on the end of a De Bruyne pass to seal a hard-fought win for City at the death.
Kevin De Bruyne – N/A
He came on just before the 7 minutes of added time began and even with a limited amount of time on the pitch, he made a difference, setting up Gabriel Jesus for City’s second goal. Sure to start against Chelsea.