MANCHESTER, England — It’s a hallmark of city of manchesterIt’s so relentless that there always seems to be someone willing to step up.
In the last month, Oscar Bobb scored the winning goal in added time Newcastle UnitedEdit and Nathan Ake got a late goal in Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup. Julian Alvarez scored two goals against Burnley in it first division. In Brentford on Monday, Phil Foden I have three.
Invariably last season, City’s winning goal was Erling Haalandbut while he was out with a broken bone in his foot, coach Pep Guardiola found other players willing to take on the responsibility of continuing to fight for more trophies.
Now, however, Haaland is back and against it. Everton Normal service resumed at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. The Norwegian striker scored both goals City won 2-0 and, for at least a few hours, I returned to the top of the first division table.
“I can’t imagine him standing for two months and moving this huge body and being fit again, but he’s back,” Guardiola said after the game. “I think he’s going to help. The first goal is a little sloppy, but the shot is incredible and the shot on the second goal was also incredible. It’s really important for us to have Erling with us.”
City were never at their best, but the fact that Haaland’s name appears on the scoreboard again will be enough to worry the rest of the league. The first half was resumed in the last minute of 45 when Álvarez stole James Tarkowski to the left and looked up to see Haaland standing alone in the center. But the Argentine’s pass was hasty and too close to Jordan Pickford, who picked it up easily and earned a nod of thanks from Tarkowski. It should have been a goal but, as for most of the first half, City were not on the same page and went into the tunnel at half-time at 0-0.
Haaland managed just 12 touches in the first half and you imagine that when Everton manager Sean Dyche came down from the directors’ box (because he is serving a touchline suspension) to the dressing room at half-time, he would have congratulated his team in half. A job well done. But part of the problem with playing against City is that to get a good result, everything often needs to go right and a mistake at any time can be mercilessly punished.
“Defensively he was very good for a lot of the game,” Dyche said afterwards. “I think they only had three shots on goal, which is unusual. [Haaland] He doesn’t have many touches in some games but he scores. That’s why he is who he is and does what he does.”
Everton got away with Tarkowski’s mistake, but then failed to take a corner from the right midway through the second half, and a rocket from Haaland’s right boot made it 1-0. It was Haaland’s first goal since he scored against RB Leipzig on November 28 and ended their longest goalless streak in the Premier League after failing to find the net in their last four games in the competition.
He didn’t have to wait long to get another one. Kevin De Bruynewho came on as a substitute, threw a pass forward, allowing Haaland to sweep Jarrad Branthwaite to the ground and rolls his shot towards the far corner.
Two typical Haaland goals and, in the end, a very typical City victory. Now there are 10 consecutive games in all competitions and despite all the talk of a three-way title race with Liverpool and ArsenalIt still seems like Guardiola’s team has a lot of control.
“I know the team, I see it every day, my opinion is that it is fresher and better and the fact of losing games does not affect it,” said the City coach. “They are still there. With Erling and Kevin we are stronger, it is obvious, when a team loses consistency we have to worry about the way it trains, behaves and races. When that happens, the team is alive and I never was.” concerned. From day 1 I did not have [a bad] feeling.
“The team this season, in difficulties, takes a step forward, recovering lost positions. I love winning these types of games. The atmosphere of the team, the feeling of the team from the first day of this season, I said: ‘Okay, I like it.'”
City scored 39 goals in 14 games between Haaland’s goals against Leipzig and Everton, showing that if necessary, they can do it without their number 9. But with the 23-year-old back among the goals, they look as formidable as ever as they approach the part of the season when they are traditionally at their best.
Everton found that the moment City and Haaland found their rhythm, the game disappeared very quickly. The worry for Liverpool, Arsenal and other rivals is that the same could happen to the title.