Manchester City 2-1 Everton
As a new decade begins in the Premier League, many of us have been looking back at the past decade of Premier League 2020 highlights.
For this SBOTOP observer, the outstanding player in the country during that period has been an Argentine maverick.
Reigning champions Manchester City recorded 251 league wins over the decade – more than any other team – and it was Sergio Aguero whose tally of 174 goals over the decade was a Premier League-high. He also scored the most hat-tricks (11).
Highlights of the game
Step forward Gabriel Jesus, whose second-half double ensured City got 2020 off to a winning start and showed again he could be more than a very able deputy.
He has now been directly involved in 69 goals in 75 starts for City in all competitions (53 goals, 16 assists).
This was also a first victory, at the third attempt, for Pep Guardiola against his opposite number Carlo Ancelotti. Two managerial masters going head-to-head.
The veteran Italian was responsible for Guardiola’s heaviest home defeat as a manager when Real Madrid defeated Bayern Munich 4-0 in the 2014 Champions League semi-finals.
Unsurprisingly for a side with such a wealth of talent, it was all City, even though Everton restricted them well during much of the first half and also saw the promising Phil Foden have a goal correctly ruled out for offside early on.
Yet City are so often irresistible at home, even against dogged opponents, and finally broke through.
It took them just seven minutes into the second half, in fact, as Jesus latched onto an Ilkay Gundogan pass, cut inside and curled a delightful finish into the top corner.
Only the VAR check to see whether the Brazilian was offside delayed the natural emotion of the opener – it’s spoiling the game at the moment.
Everton responded well and came close to an immediate equaliser, but in-form frontman Dominic Calvert-Lewin, with five goals in his last five Premier League appearances (as many as in the previous 28), headed inches wide.
Jesus soon doubled the advantage after Foden found Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian moved the ball on swiftly for the striker to drill a low, confident finish into the net.
Home reserve goalkeeper Claudio Bravo made his latest mistake when he gave the ball away at the edge of the box to Moise Kean and Calvert-Lewin crossed to the far post where Richarlison was able to run clear and pull one back.
However, City were not to be denied and, but for a fine Pickford save and a post which kept out a thunderous left-footed strike, Jesus would have had a hat-trick and the match ball.
As it was, he and City will be more happy to have claimed three more deserved points.
This game was only the fourth Premier League match in which a Brazilian scored for both sides (excluding own goals), after Liverpool v Spurs in March 2019, Chelsea v Liverpool in October 2015 and Middlesbrough v Man City in May 2008.
Jesus has scored more Premier League goals against Everton (seven) than any other opponent, scoring in just his last five appearances against them.
City are on a club-record run of five straight wins against Everton in the top flight.
Everton are winless in nine Premier League away encounters at City since a 2-1 victory in December 2010 (drawn four, lost five).
City have won six of their past seven Premier League home games and their opening match of the calendar year in the past eight campaigns, as well as all seven Premier League home games on New Year’s Day.
They have dropped 19 points in 21 league matches this season, compared to 14 points in the entire 2017-18 campaign and 16 in 2018-19.
This was Everton’s first defeat in seven matches since the sacking of Marco Silva, winning three and drawing three (the League Cup exit against Leicester was on penalties).
The Toffees have won only three of their 16 Premier League fixtures on New Year’s Day, losing 11 and drawing two.
It’s FA Cup third-round weekend. City are home to Port Vale on Saturday (January 4), while Everton have the Merseyside derby and face Liverpool the following day.
City then go to city rivals Man Utd in the first leg of the League Cup semi-finals next Tuesday.
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