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Manchester City 5-0 Everton: Instant Reaction | Toffees thrashed as European dreams go up in smoke

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The game went as we all feared

Manchester City v Everton - Premier League - Etihad Stadium Photo by Dave Thompson/PA Images via Getty Images

A limp and rudderless Everton were brushed aside by Manchester City as their faint hopes of European football were finally snuffed out in humiliating fashion.

To make things worse, results elsewhere meant the Toffees slumped to a 10th-place finish. After the highs of those opening weeks back in the autumn it as a real sour note to end on, though hardly undeserved after an alarming slump since the turn of the year.

Everton went into the game needing to better Tottenham and Arsenal’s results in order to have a chance of making the Europa Conference League, but they were 2-0 down inside 13 minutes to effectively end the game as a contest and by the final whistle were a shambolic mess.

The only good bit about Everton was the new kit. The rest was a painful reminder of just how far away the Toffees are from elite sides such as City, who barely broke sweat.

Carlo Ancelotti made two changes from the midweek win over Wolves, with Yerry Mina injured and Seamus Coleman only deemed fit enough for the bench. Mason Holgate and Tom Davies came in their place.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola named a strong side despite next week’s Champions League final. Sergio Aguero, who was given a guard of honour by both sides before kick-off, was named among the substitutes in his final game as a City player.

More of him later.

Everton actually started well and had an early opening when Sigurdsson’s fine pass found Calvert-Lewin, but his low shot from a tight angel was saved by Ederson. Moments later his opposite number Jordan Pickford blocked Gabriel Jesus’ effort from a tight angle after a neat through ball by Kevin De Bruyne.

It didn’t take long for City to flex their muscles though.

Riyad Mahrez fired a pass towards the onrushing De Bruyne, whose first touch was magnificent and his nonchalant curling finish into the bottom corner even better.

Should Mahrez and De Bruyne have been closed down more? Probably - but it was a world class finish from a world class player.

What wasn’t world class was Michael Keane attempting to dribble through the City midfield seconds later. Keane was inevitably dispossessed, City broke forward and Jesus fired past Pickford.

Game over and European dream over with only 13 minutes gone.

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-EVERTON Photo by DAVE THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Pickford then had to be alert to push away another De Bruyne effort from inside the box after a cross was cleared into his path.

The Toffees belatedly found some ambition when Allan burst forward and teed up Richarlison, whose effort deflected just wide. Minutes later, Everton had a chance to get back into the game when Richarlison was fouled by Ruben Dias as he was clear on goal for a penalty.

Gylfi Sigurdsson stepped up, but in keeping with Everton’s day, it was saved by Ederson.

Manchester City v Everton - Premier League - Etihad Stadium Photo by Dave Thompson/PA Images via Getty Images

City were coasting and as a result there were openings there for Everton if they wanted to take them, but the more they pushed forward the greater risk of getting caught on the counter, with Mahrez striking the bar after one such flowing City move.

The mood wasn’t helped by results elsewhere, with Everton falling behind Leeds and Arsenal at the break.

Sigurdsson fired an effort over as Everton started the second half brightly, but again City looked dangerous on the counter as Phil Foden saw an effort deflected wide before Dias fired straight at Pickford from the resulting corner.

They would not be denied for much longer though.

Doucoure gave it away in midfield, Jesus sauntered forward and fed Sterling, who in turn laid if off for Foden to stroke home.

All too easy.

The kind thing would be to just end the game now. Instead City threw on Aguero for his farewell appearance. That’s just cruel, guys.

And as much as night follows day, he got his farewell goal five minutes after coming on.

Davies was robbed of possession by Fernandinho who fed the Argentine, who waltzed into the area before stabbing the ball effortlessly into the corner.

Manchester City v Everton - Premier League Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

Everton then decided they wouldn’t even bother marking Aguero after that, meaning he had half the penalty area to work in as he headed a cross from the right beyond a horribly exposed Pickford.

He then saw an effort from a tight angle pushed away, before the England goalkeeper did even better to tip away another head at full stretch.

The final 15 minutes were absolutely excruciating, with Sterling drawing yet another good save from Pickford, the only Evertonian to emerge with any credit, in stoppage time.

There are some positives to take from this most unusual of seasons, though it will take time for them to emerge from the gloom after this most painful of finales.

We all knew Ancelotti had a huge job rebuilding this squad and that was never going to be achieved in just one pandemic-affected year. But the scale of the task required may be even bigger than even he first imagined, with their shortcomings painfully exposed here.