On this day (26 February) in 2022 Phil Foden’s late winner for Manchester City at Everton gave Manchester’s Blues a six-point lead over Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.
The game had followed a defeat to Tottenham and some had suggested the initiative in the title race would soon switch to Liverpool but Foden’s goal ensured City retained in control. Everton fans thought their club should have had a penalty as they felt City midfielder Rodri handled a dropping ball inside the area, but a VAR check determined he hadn’t.
Despite considerable noise from the home fans, the first half had been fairly even but in the second City demonstrated their superiority time and time again. Everton ‘keeper Jordan Pickford had to make a number of significant saves, including a double stop to deny Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva in quick succession. It looked like City were going to be frustrated but in the 82nd minute a Bernardo Silva cross was blocked but not cleared well enough and Phil Foden nipped in, rounded Pickford and scored the only goal of the game.
After the game City manager Pep Guardiola commented that after a difficult first half City: ‘Deserved [the] win and three more points. Goodison Park has always been so difficult. When a striker go with Rodri and they defend really well it is always difficult. You have to find the situations and the second half was much better. We moved the ball a bit quicker, we attacked quicker. The second half they were a little more tired. We were solid behind, we don’t concede much.’
There had been a show of solidarity with Ukraine, where war was taking place following an invasion by Russia. The City players wore Tee-shirts with the Ukraine flag on the front and the message ‘no war’ on the back and City’s Zinchenko received some good applause from both sets of fans as he warmed up as substitute. Pep: ‘What a moment. Thank you so much for all the people. Zinchenko was very pleased. He was warming up. It means what the people want to say. That is why thank you so much for the all the people here and we are looking forward to the next week at home in the derby we can show to Zinchenko and to the Ukraine citizens, what we want.’
The City victory meant that they had their last ten matches against Everton in all competitions, making it Pep Guardiola’s joint-longest winning run against an opponent in his managerial career (equalling 10 v Watford). Highlights of the game here:
Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne made his 200th Premier League appearance in this game and his 80 assists was the most of any player within their first 200 matches in the competition’s history.
Everton’s manager was the former City player Frank Lampard who had been appointed on 31 January 2022. He commented: ‘One of the reasons I took the job was my feeling of growing up and understanding the history of the club and seeing them as First Division champions and playing here and feeling what the crowd can do. They affect games and I love working in those circumstances. The next two or three weeks will be hard but from what I have seen today, if we keep doing that we will be alright.”
Within a year there were demonstrations against Everton’s owners and Lampard was dismissed.
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