Heroic saves from Stekelenburg deny City

By Michael Kenrick 15/10/2016  165 Comments  [Jump to last]

Ross Barkley is dropped to the bench for the Etihad clash

Barkley was dropped for the Man City game with Gerard Deulofeu getting the nod from Ronald Koeman; Baines did not start, with Oviedo playing left back. De Bruyne started for City.

With Leighton Baines failing to recover sufficiently from his recent injury, Ronald Koeman made some surprise choices for the biggest task of the season so far, with Bryan Oviedo preferred over Funes Mori at left back, and Ross Barkley dropped to the bench in favour Gerard Deulofeu, with Tom Cleverly also starting who has probably showed he can provide more of a pressing presence in midfield.

For Manchester City, John Stones starts in a defence that sees Vincent Kompany on the bench, De Bruyne returns, while Aguero is on the bench.

Man City kicked off and the early play was around the Everton penalty area. De Bruyne getting in an early low cross, Everton struggling for possession, and not keeping it when there was a turnover. Sane got close in to fire at Stekelenburg, pushed behind for a corner and the pressure from City was intense, broken only by a free-kick awarded to Everton

Bolasie got forward but could not find a yellow shirt with his cross. Deulofeu tried to release Lukaku, who ran the other way, and City attacked again. But Everton had survived the early pressure and did better to take the ball up the right wing, Deulofeu got an excellent cross in that Lukaku failed to head [properly. Everton won a dangerous free-kick that Lukaku fired high and wide, hopelessly off target.

Sane again attacked Oviedo and tripped over his legs... no penalty. But Everton were still being pressed back and unable to get their foot on the ball, wasting it when they do finally win it.

De Bruyne lashed in a shot that was deflected well over for a corner that came to nothing. Coleman tried to hold Sterling but gave up another corner that was fed back in low, Everton struggling to keep them out, giving up a free-kick on the edge of their penalty area that De Bruyne smacked into the wall and Oviedo needed a touch to deny Sane for another corner.

De Bruyne and Sane again cut Everton's left-side defense apart with only the finishing ball lacking as the Koeman's charges rocked under the relentless barrage. Sterling was next to test Stekelenburg after a brief Everton foray forward came to nothing.

City switched to the ball to the left and won a free-kick for a nothing touch from Cleverley, but they once again defended the threat. But City's ball movement was so slick, the Everton players so slow to press, it was painful to watch at times. Still, the thin yellow line were holding off everything the sky-blue shirts threw at them. With Everton unable to clear a surge saw Silva fire well over.

Deulofeu picked up the ball and was able to run forward but his pass failed to find Lukaku and City returned play, De Bruyne firing a cross/shot well wide. Coleman went in quite heavily on Sterling's ankle but seemed to avoid censure as the ex-Liverpool player received extended treatment, providing an opportunity for Everton to regroup a little.

Gueye helped Oviedo to double up on Sane and win the ball only to lose it back again. Coleman did a lot better to steal the ball off Sterling but his forward ball just came straight back and the ball was pinged around again, with Everton reduced to ball-watching. if the ball did go forward, Lukaku was immediately under pressure and unable to keep the ball.

A period of Everton possession looked better with Bolasie getting in some crosses from the left but the quality was lacking. The tempo changed a little as City seemed to run out of ideas a little as the break approached.

Under more pressure, Jagielka lazily stuck out his leg behind him and tripped Silva, giving De Bruyne a chance to test Stekelenburg from the spot... and fail! A fantastic save from the Dutchman, to deny what would have been a killer goal.

Everton looked very relieved and did their best to expand the game but could still not threaten Bravo in the City goal as Mark Oliver brought the half to an end.

Everton got forward from the restart and Bolasie fired in a great cross that was defended back and Deulofeu got himself offside for the fourth time. City resumed their forward intent but Everton broke free and had a short spell of attacking possession until Coleman gave it away cheaply after Lukaku had done well to hold the ball up.

The best move from Everton saw Bolasie feed out to Deulofeu who fired in a tremendous shot that Bravo palmed away for a corner. But Lukaku could not hold off Sterling and City threatened again, then Deulofeu was offside yet again. Sane whipped in a wicked low cross that Iheanacho almost converted but for good positioning from Stekelenburg

Gueye stole the ball off Iheanacho's toe and fed Bolasie but Lukaku had no idea how to anticipate the tempting forward ball that should have been in his path. There was much more back and forth now, Everton perhaps more open at the back as the ball was deflected behind, but Everton still not using the ball when released. Aguero replaced Iheanacho ;Deulofeu was hauled off before the hour, with McCarthy replacing him.

The pattern of play resumed after the subs, City probing but not as smoothly as in the first half, with Everton looking to break, but Bolasie double-teamed again and City surging forward, Sterling cutting inside, only to have his effort blocked by Jagielka. The next prolonged attack finished with Stekelenburg plucking Sane's cross out of the air.

Another sweeping attack, De Bruyne whipping in a tremendous cross superbly intercepted by Jagielka's and that allowed Everton to break, Bolasie getting in front of John Stones to clip a lovely ball forward, Lukaku picking up the ball and running at the City goal, firing in a superb shot low into the far corner to give Everton a precious, precious lead.

The Etihad, suitably stunned, and only too well aware how few real chances their side had created in terms of shots on goal, wanted to see their clear superiority exerted against the yellow shirts. But Jagielka gave up another penalty, thrying to clear the ball off Aguero's toes. Aguero stepped up and incredibly, Stekelenburg made exactly the same save as he had against De Bruyne!!

Another superb save kept them out only for him to finally be beaten off a wide cross from Silva with sub Nolito heading it back and into the corner of the goal.

Everton were looking tired, not breaking at speed as they needed although Lukaku tried to win a foot race. The game was a lot more even but Everton needed something different... Barkley perhaps?

De Bruyne pulled an unbelievable shot from nothing, that was sailing inexorably into the top corner but for a fantastic leap and fingertip save onto the post by Stekelenburg. Koeman's choice was to replace Bolasie with Mirallas with less than 10 minutes left.

Williams was booked for a nothing intervention with De Bruyne at speed down the City right wing. Another set piece defended away again by Everton. Oveido stayed solid, blocking Sterling again. But Everton seemed to be happy with the point as they failed to put together much forward movement, with lazy balls played into open space for City to collect.

More subs in the last minute, Funes Mori on for Cleverley, with four minutes of added time as Everon looked to steal a point from the Etihad, rather than push for the win.

Everton did finally push forward, and eventually won a free-kick with Barry getting a kick in the process. One last chance for the Blues to win the game, a very central free-kick, 40 yards out, but wasted, allowing City to return to the Everton area and more hearts in mouth until Mirallas was awarded a free-kick and Michael Oliver blow the final whistle.

Manchester City: Bravo, Otamendi, Stones, Clichy, Gundogan, Fernandinho (90' Kompany), De Bruyne, Silva, Sane (71' Nolito), Iheanacho (56' Aguero), Sterling.
Subs: Caballero, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Fernando.

Everton: Stekelenburg, Oviedo, Jagielka, Williams, Coleman, Barry, Gana, Cleverley (90' Funes Mori), Deulofeu (57' McCarthy), Bolasie (84' Mirallas), Lukaku.
Subs: Robles, Holgate, Barkley, Valencia.

Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 15 October 2016
Referee: Michael Oliver

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