Sometimes under the most trying of circumstances footballers break out with the most amazing performances. Charged with being the focal point of the attack at the Etihad, Everton forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin put in a showing to remember during the first half as the Blues led 1-0 at the break against Manchester City.
His eye for space and quick movement both with and without the ball gave City’s plodding three-man backline fits and it was no surprise when he got free, skinned a couple of defenders and centered for Wayne Rooney to score a momentous 200th Premier League goal in the first stanza.
Speaking after the game, manager Ronald Koeman was full of praise for the youngster.
“Dominic did well. He ran a lot and made it really difficult for the defenders of City who have pace in front. It makes for a good game.
“Then you can come out of your box and control, but it was really difficult.”
When asked if he was surprised by how well Rooney is playing, notching his 200th Premier League goal to join an elite club of two alongside Alan Shearer -
“I’m not surprised his performances.
“I know the player. I know how eager he was to come back to Everton. And he’s showing that quality on the ball and the productivity of the player that we saw tonight, we’re happy that he’s back.”
So far Koeman and Steve Walsh have been vindicated with their choice to bring Rooney back home.
The manager then added that it was unfortunate for young defender Mason Holgate who inadvertently led to the hosts’ equalizer -
“We had a game plan and we carried it out perfectly in the first half. In the second, one unlucky moment for Mason sees him head it straight to Sterling.
“You teach your defenders not to head the ball back into the box but it was difficult for him. Maybe he was pushed a little bit by De Bruyne at the time. It was an unlucky moment.
“We made it really difficult for them but you do need that little bit of luck. We had a few moments where we were fortunate in the second half because they created one or two good chances.
“But defensively we did a good job and I am really proud of the team for how they performed against a really strong City side.”
Koeman asked for the fanbase to remain upbeat despite the final result -
“We are a little bit disappointed. After gaining a point here that sounds a bit strange.
“Maybe before the match you would sign up for that. But after half-time, when it was 11 against 10, we lost the control a little bit. We played the long ball too quickly instead of keeping it short and maintaining possession.
“But the team worked really hard. In the end, it’s a decent result and we should look at the positives.”