Everton were denied the point their industrious and ambitious performance deserved by a combination of Ryiad Mahrez’s precision free-kick and the excellent goalkeeper of Manchester City’s Ederson.
Champions City were on the back foot when Mahrez sent a dead ball spinning beyond Jordan Pickford on 71 minutes at Goodison Park.
Ederson, beaten in the first half when Dominic Calvert-Lewin touched in Seamus Coleman’s delicate effort, saved point-blank from both Calvert-Lewin and Yerry Mina as Everton battered down the door in search of a second leveller.
And Raheem Sterling ensured City would claim the points when he thrashed a volley off the underside of the bar after Pickford had saved with his foot from Sergio Aguero’s initial strike.
Gabriel Jesus scored the first goal of a harum-scarum contest when he headed in a cross from Kevin De Bruyne.
Everton’s equaliser on 33 mines owed much to the persistence of Alex Iwobi and Coleman's’ cool under fire.
Iwobi, on for Theo Walcott after the Englishman wore Sterling’s cross to the head inside a minute, was first to react when Fernandinho made a hash of clearing Gylfi Sigurdsson’s wicked right-wing delivery.
Iwobi was buffeted by a swarm of City defenders but more than did his bit to feed Coleman. The Everton captain skilfully flighted the ball over Ederson, out of the traps in an instant to close the Irishman, leaving Calvert-Lewin to convert from one yard.
City had led when Brazilian Jesus stooped to head in Kevin De Bruyne’s cross. The creator’s delivery was brilliant but the away side were indebted to Mahrez for his burst down the right in the build-up.
Mahrez threaded his silky stamp right through this match.
He forced Everton keeper Pickford into a tumbling save inside 60 seconds and after 12 minutes lashed in a ball from the right which Ilkay Gundogan smacked against the bar from a couple of yards.
Pickford had a fairly easy job in collecting another Mahrez effort on 28 minutes, this one after City broke following an Everton raid which ended with Nicolas Otamendi rising to clear Richarlison’s untidy strike at goal.
Richarlison, who swapped to the right following Walcott’s enforced withdrawal, was in purposeful form.
Picked out by a fabulous Pickford pass – thumped 50 yards with laser-like accuracy – Richarlison made progress through the middle of the field before being impeded by Brazilian compatriot Fenrandinho.
Lucas Digne was off target with the resulting free-kick – but subsequently completely on point when scampering onto Iwobi’s pass and picking out Sigurdsson with a low centre.
Sigurdsson took aim first time but sent his first-time strike into the legs of Fernandinho.
City were hogging the ball for large parts – just as Marco Silva predicted they would.
But Everton were more than holding up their end in terms of creating opportunities.
Certainly, Everton’s endeavour and intent were keeping Pep Guardiola’s team honest.
Ederson got his frame behind Sigurdsson’s low, swerving strike right after City’s goal had threatened to dampen a charged atmosphere inside Goodison.
It carried on in this vein, the teams swapping blows, until the interval.
Sigurdsson stretched out his right leg but could not rein in a pass over the top from Iwobi – that after Jesus blasted wide of Pickford’s right post.
Richarlison’s header from Sigurdsson’s free-kick – after Otamendi employed rather rudimentary means to down Calvert-Lewin – screamed over the top.
Again, this was Everton giving as good as they got, minutes after De Bruyne thrashed into the side netting.
Indeed, the home side were gaining the ascendancy.
When Ederson sprang to deny Mina after the Colombian met another Sigurdsson free-kick with a header which spat off the turf, 2-1 would not have flattered Everton.
But whatever the direction and rhythm of a game this City team will create chances.
Jesus dropped deep, leaving space for Sterling to escape in behind. The forward’s pass was perfect but his precision was not matched by Sterling who side-footed wide.
Mahrez’s free-kick, awarded for Mina’s challenge on De Bruyne, flew past Pickford’s desperate dive to his right.
But still Everton refused to throw in the towel.
Ederson saved with his leg from Calvert-Lewin after Sigurdsson’s clever pass sent the forward bearing down on goal.
Ederson again with 11 minutes remaining. Mina towered above all comers to meet Sigurdsson’s corner from the right.
His header was destined for the inside of Ederson’s right post until the keeper dived and flung out his right palm.
The rebound was at Calvert-Lewin's feet too quickly for the striker to react and turn it goalwards.
Sterling's thumping strike put the outcome beyond doubt. City countered with Everton throwing everything they had at the away side.
Pickford did very well to react and save substitute Sergio Augero's strike across goal. The keeper's luck was out, though, and Sterling's fortune in, the England forward's left foot blast coming off the bar and landing a foot over the line.
Unbowed by the blow of falling behind, Everton summoned a stirring response to Gabriel Jesus’s 24th-minute strike.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s first-time strike immediately after City’s opener following Lucas Digne’s overlap and cross was blocked by Fernandinho.
Everton had injected greater urgency into their football and further whipped up a lively Goodison Park when the equaliser arrived.
Sigurdsson was enjoying a purple patch, finding space and feeding his fellow attackers with punched, incisive passes.
When he gathered the ball wide on the right after 33 minutes, though, the Icelander went for a flat and hard delivery.
The ball arrived on Fenrnandinho before the Brazilian had a chance to compute what was unfolding.
Flat-footed, he let the ball cannon off him and to the lurking Alex Iwobi.
City’s defenders descended on Iwobi in a flash but only succeeded in nudging the ball from one Everton player to another.
Seamus Coleman had advanced upfield from right-back to be stood eight yards from goal.
The penalty box was now a whir of moving parts, City’s garish shirts providing the background for Ederson in his all-pink strip to rush at Coleman’s feet.
Coleman was the coolest man inside Goodison Park, dinking the ball over goalkeeper Ederson and generating enough legs on his finish to propel it towards the line.
Calvert-Lewin did the rest and Everton’s compelling response had drawn them on terms.
The Best Laid Plans...
Marco Silva’s plan to employ Theo Walcott’s pace to disturb Manchester City went to the wall inside the first minute.
Walcott was poleaxed after absorbing Raheem Sterling’s left-wing cross flush on the head, leading to an extremely early summons for Alex Iwobi.
Former Arsenal attacker Iwobi has started twice in the Premier League since his deadline-day move to Goodison.
But here he was as good as in from the off.
Iwobi parked himself on the left, Richarlison immediately transferring to the right to take the assignment initially earmarked for Walcott.
The Brazilian instinctively made for City’s box after controlling Jordan Pickford’s rifled pass and won his side a free-kick 18 yards from goal.
Lucas Digne was too high with the dead-ball but the episode revealed Everton’s intent to operate with purpose whenever the home side wrested possession from City.
Richarlison was in behind again when Sigurdsson squeezed through a pass. Taking the direct route again, too, a scuffed effort leaping from the turf and cleared – not without a trace of anxiety – by Nicolas Otamendi.
Everton’s desire to be positive with the ball was personified by Seamus Coleman marauding across field to feed fellow full-back Digne.
Frenchman Digne, meanwhile, bombed from the blocks to get round Iwobi after the busy and combative Fabian Delph won possession in midfield.
The overlapping player fed a low ball for Sigurdsson, whose shot was blocked by Fernandinho.
Coleman’s courage and adventure was comprehensively rewarded when the ball ran to the Irishman eight yards from goal to score past Ederson.
Stern Examination Posed By Champions
Keeping Manchester City at bay unquestionably ranks as one of the most vexing tasks any Premier League team will encounter.
Pep Guardiola’s side came to Goodison Park boasting a four-goal-per-game return this term. They scored 201 across their past two title winning seasons.
An awful lot needs to go right, then, to prevent this lot from scoring at will.
Which is probably why Marco Silva beckoned Yerry Mina for a word after the defender’s header invited Riyad Mahrez to drill in the cross which Ilkay Gundogan smacked against the bar after 12 minutes
Mina’s response? A vital interception minutes later when Raheem Sterling crossed from the byline.
Michael Keane defended masterfully one-on-one against Sterling after 10 minutes, the centre-half’s stare never diverting from the ball until he reached out his right foot to steal it from box-of-tricks Sterling’s toe.
Fabian Delph tracked Kyle Walker deep into his own area to prevent the right-back completing a one-two with German Gundogan.
When City did break through, it was down to Kevin De Bruyne’s first-time delivery, the Belgian’s speed of thought and execution keeping Garbriel Jesus onside as he advanced onto the delivery.
Richarlison hurtling back to balk Sterling on the stroke of half-time was indicative of how Everton remained faithful to their intention of denying City space in dangerous positions following the goal.
Keane positioned himself intelligently to block from Gundogan two minutes after the break, while Pickford could claim he had a De Bruyne blast covered had it not flown into the side netting.
You need the run of the green on occasion and Everton received a slice of fortune when Sterling slide a ball past the post after being released by Jesus’s pass to unlock the Blues’ rearguard.
Keane, Mina and Morgan Schneiderlin all converged on Sterling as he set to shoot midway through the second half.
Between them, the trio got the job done, Sterling’s effort travelling no more than two yards before being directed off course.
Mahrez’s free-kick skipped beyond Pickford to give City a lead they would not surrender and that felt hard on Everton after an effort full of discipline, endeavour and ambition.