Not all draws are good. But this? This was a fantastic draw for Everton. As a team, they were dominated for large swaths of the game, but thanks to an outstanding performance from their goalkeeper, Maarten Stekelenburg, they were able to earn a point on the road against Manchester City on Saturday.
The opening 45 minutes saw City in utter and complete control of the game. They maintained about 77 percent of the possession and kept the ball almost exclusively in Everton’s half of the field. However, they rarely challenged the keeper. Stekelenburg’s one notable save was off of a deflection that made for a rather easily catch and clear job. That was, until the FIRST penalty of the day.
Following a poor Yannick Bolasie clearance attempt, David Silva gained control in the Everton box. Despite his best efforts, Phil Jagielka was unable to knock the ball away and ended up falling to the turf, where he kicked his legs about and, in the process, tripped Silva. Kevin De Bruyne stepped up to take the PK and aimed for the top right corner, but Stekelenburg guessed right and parried the ball away. The half soon ended in a scoreless tie.
The second half saw a much more open game in which City was still on top, but Everton showed life. In fact, it was the Toffees who would get onto the scoresheet first.
Out of nowhere, a long ball was played to Bolasie. The winger put the slightest of touches on it to send Romelu Lukaku free into the City defense. From there, he had just one man to beat, Gael Clichy. With a little shimmy and shake, Lukaku roasted the defender and slotted his shot past Claudio Bravo. 1-0 Everton!
Romelu Lukaku's goal v City today! ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/bPk1UbyMir— Transfer Swoop (@SwoopTransfer) October 15, 2016
You know what they say: Goals change games. That was certainly the case. Everton looked like they wanted to score again and City began attacking with more intensity. Almost immediately, they earned ANOTHER penalty.
It was Jagielka again who gave it up. Battling with Sergio Aguero at the top of the box, Jags swung and missed the ball, taking out Aguero instead, sending him to the pitch. It was an easy call for referee Michael Oliver. The striker took his own penalty and placed it in the same spot as De Bruyne. Stekelenburg was equal to it AGAIN and batted it away to maintain the lead.
However, it wouldn’t last. City kept peppering the goal and ultimately tied things with a Nolito headed goal off of Silva cross. Nolito had come on as a sub only moments earlier.
From there, the two teams played out the draw, but Stekelenburg made a couple of other brilliant saves throughout the match. He was the single reason why Everton were even within reach of three points. The Etihad is a tough place to play as a visitor. The fact that Everton are leaving with a point at all is an accomplishment.
Other bright spots, Ashley Williams was brilliant in the center of defense. Seamus Coleman showed up as a defender in a big way. And Gareth Barry stood out in the middle of the pitch.
However, the rest of the team seemed to struggle a bit. Gerard Deulofeu started, but had a tough time getting anything going. He and Bolasie began the match on the opposite sides to which they have seemed to be strongest. Geri was on the left and Bolasie was on the right. To me, that is not putting them in a place to succeed.
And the biggest weak spot was Bryan Oviedo. In the first half, he couldn’t handle Leroy Sane at all. Idrissa Gueye gave him help a few times to prevent any real chances. In the second half, they sent Raheem Sterling at him. He did better, but still had issues with the speed. The Silva cross that led to Nolito’s goal was defended by Oviedo, who had switched with Coleman. For whatever reason, he just didn’t close him down and allowed the cross to come in. Why is Brendon Galloway on loan to West Brom still? Please come back soon, Leighton!
We shouldn’t harp on the negative. This was a good result. Was it totally deserved? Probably not. But the defense was solid, Stekelenburg was amazing and Lukaku was clinical with Everton’s only real chance of the game.
Next up, Everton travel to Burnley next Saturday. It will be a shorter week for the opponents. They don’t played until tomorrow against Southampton.