Manchester City Claims 1st Place, For Now, By Topping Everton
Manchester City climbed atop the Premier League standings — at least provisionally — for the first time since December by beating visiting Everton, 2-0, on Wednesday, heaping more pressure on Liverpool, their main rival for the title.
Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus scored for City during injury time of each half as the club went above Liverpool on goal difference — although Liverpool has played one fewer game. City’s game at Everton, the only Premier League game played Wednesday, was rescheduled because of the English League Cup final on Feb. 24, when Pep Guardiola’s team is set Chelsea at Wembley.
City trailed Liverpool by seven points at the start of 2019 but beat Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side on Jan. 3 and is now level with the Reds on 62 points, five points ahead of third-place Tottenham.
City struggled to create chances at Goodison Park but Laporte exploited Everton’s weakness on set pieces by heading in the opening goal just before halftime with City’s first shot on target. It was the 12th Premier League goal — and 17th in all competitions — conceded from a set piece by Everton, the worst record in the league.
Everton Manager Marco Silva opted for a defensive-minded lineup by leaving out Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson — who have scored 19 of Everton’s 36 league goals this season — and those changes made it difficult for City to break down Everton’s defense in the first half. However, Ilkay Gundogan also had a shot deflected onto the crossbar and also had claims for a penalty waved away after a challenge by André Gomes.
A 58th-minute overhead kick by Sergio Agüero could have sealed the win but it flashed wide. Everton brought on Sigurdsson and Richarlison in search for an equalizer, but instead it was Jesus who doubled the advantage with a header with virtually the last touch of the game.
BARCELONA 1, REAL MADRID 1 Real Madrid earned a draw at Barcelona to take a slim away-goal advantage in their Copa del Rey semifinal.
Lucas Vázquez gave Madrid the lead in the sixth minute during an opening stage dominated by the visitors.
But Barcelona eventually established control, and Malcom tied the game with a follow-up shot after Luis Suárez had hit the post in the 58th.
Lionel Messi stayed on the bench for Barcelona until coming on in the 64th. He had been doubtful for the match after picking up a right-leg injury on Saturday.
This was the first of three “clásicos” in less than a month. The second leg of the semifinal in Madrid is on Feb. 27, just before the two clubs’ Spanish league game at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on March 3.