Everton End Season With City Defeat

Everton suffered a rough end to their season at the home of Manchester City.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side knew the scale of their task prior to this – a victory to taint the champions' coronation only ever likely to be enough for European qualification.

City stormed in front, scoring in minutes 11 and 14 through Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus.

Everton had threatened at 0-0, Ederson reacting well to save from Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

And there were opportunities to get back in the game as the visitors summoned a response from two behind.

Not least when Ruben Dias scythed down Richarlison in the penalty area. Gylfi Sigurdsson went left with his penalty but saw it beaten out by Ederson.

The game's outcome hinged on the destination of the third goal and it went to City, Phil Foden stroking past Pickford, who had a terrific game, making a trio of one-on-one saves from Raheem Sterling and a number of additional excellent stops.

Sergio Aguero came off the bench to end his Premier League career with a pair of goals, adding a 76th-minute header to a crafty, outside-of-the-boot finish five minutes earlier.

Everton, then, won 11 of 19 away matches this term, this only their fourth defeat.

But playing without fans at Goodison Park came at a cost. Three home matches with supporters yielded three victories, of 16 games Evertonians watched from home there were three wins and four draws.

Carlo Ancelotti's side improved on last season's points tally, 59 against 49, and won 17 matches to 13 in 2019/20. They scored three more goals and conceded eight fewer.

De Bruyne, operating behind central striker Jesus, had already created City’s clearest opening when his precision strike put City in front.

In his familiar guise of playmaker, the Belgian delivered an incisive, perfectly-weighted pass behind Ben Godfrey – who did nothing wrong – to send Jesus in on goal.

Pickford rushed from his line to make a very good save – but there was little the Everton goalkeeper could do to thwart the relentless De Bruyne five minutes later.

Riyad Mahrez was the architect, skipping infield from the right via one-twos with Jesus and Foden, before feeding De Bruyne, slightly left of central and 18 yards out.

He shifted the ball out of his feet and sent a clinical low strike arrowing into Pickford’s left corner.

The goal capped an opening 11 minutes fizzing with activity and not played exclusively in Everton’s half. Not by a long shot, in fact.

Mason Holgate and Allan combined on Everton’s right after four minutes, Holgate eventually swatting the ball inside for Sigurdsson.

The effort from 20 yards skipped up kindly for Ederson to gather but the City goalkeeper had to wait only 60 seconds for a more extensive workout.

Sigurdsson fed a terrific ball behind John Stones – it was a pass the sublime De Bruyne would have been glad to call his own – releasing Calvert-Lewin for a shot Ederson saved down to his right.

Everton’s midfield was staffed by the central trio of Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Tom Davies, ushering City wide for the majority of their attacks.

Stealing the ball in the middle of the pitch on 14 minutes, however, City went right through the heart of the pitch to open up daylight between themselves and their visitors.

De Bruyne collected a pass from Sterling and prodded forwards to set Jesus sprinting into the box.

The Brazilian twisted and turned, manufacturing the space to lift a crisp right-footed strike beyond Pickford.

City, backed by 10,000 vociferous fans, here to celebrate the club’s third Premier League title in four seasons, had their blood up.

And Everton needed to withstand a run of pressure before they could begin to think about turning the tide.

Pickford flew to his left to repel a De Bruyne effort after the City player’s left wing free-kick was inadvertently sent back his way by Mahrez’s skewed volley.

Doucoure tracked De Bryune to intercept when Sterling directed a slick return backheel for the rapidly advancing City player.

And Godfrey was positioned to volley over his own bar when Oleksandr Zinchenko aimed a cross from the left for Sterling.

Sterling was offside when Pickford denied him one-on-one. There was an action replay right before half-time, however, Pickford standing tall to make a stop that counted.

Allan is notably recapturing fitness following the injury that stopped the South American in his tracks before Christmas.

And with a robust Allan comes drive from midfield. He looked to carry the ball forwards at every opportunity, here, and it was Allan transferring defence into attack that ushered Everton back into the contest.

He surged between Foden and Fernandinho, hurrying into unoccupied ground to feed Richarlison, whose shot was deflected off target.

Richarlison was surfacing as a significant factor in the game.

He was alive to the opportunity when Zinchenko casually directed the ball back into his own half and no-one in particular.

Progressing into the box, Richarlison was tripped by Dias’ sliding attempt to win the ball.

The Portuguese defender was booked but Ederson, moving to his right, saved Sigurdsson’s strike from 12 yards.

It was the Icelander’s first miss from five penalties this season.

Richarlison was quickly onto the rebound, mind, but the express Kyle Walker kept pace with the Brazilian to block.

Everton rather fancied they could have had two more penalties before half-time.

Some intricate passing around the fringes of the box led to Sigurdsson poking the ball forward for Calvert-Lewin, who tumbled following a heavy-handed challenge from Stones.

Next, Richarlison dribbled across the perimeter of the area to unleash a right-footed blast that appeared to hit Dias on the arm.

If a third goal was coming, then, it wasn’t readily obvious which way it would go.

Mahrez cracked the frame of the goal from distance after controlling Sterling’s clever cut back.

Sigurdsson was too high from 25 yards shortly after the restart, Foden then rolling an effort narrowly wide, via a deflection, and Pickford holding Dias’ drive following the subsequent corner.

And it was the home team who would grab the game’s third goal. Jesus escaped down the left to funnel a pass inside for Sterling, who helped the ball on to Foden for a shot across Pickford and inside the keeper’s right corner.

Godfrey swapped to right-back for the second half, Holgate shifting to centre-half.

And a change in personnel quickly followed Foden’s strike, Alex Iwobi and Bernard on for Doucoure`and Sigurdsson.

Rodri, a substitute for City, swiped over after good work from Sterling on the left.

And Ederson smothered at the feet of compatriot Richarlison.

But not before one of the most protracted introductions for a substitute you’re ever likely to hear.

Aguero, on his final Manchester City Premier League appearance, was greeted like a demi-god by the home supporters who were treated to a reminder over the PA of the Argentine’s long list of achievements for his club.

And after Jesus had skied a 10 yarder, Aguero struck twice inside five minutes.

First, the reportedly Barcelona-bound player found the space to squeeze a shot with the outside of his right boot inside Pickford’s right post.

Then Fernandinho landed a right-sided cross on the head of the striker, who guided his finish inside Pickford's left post.

Aguero finished with 184 Premier League goals.  No non-English player has more.

Pickford denied Aguero a hat-trick with a sharp stop to his right and the England number one dived in the same direction to keep out a Dias header.

And in stoppage-time Pickford denied England teammate Sterling at close quarters for a third time.