Ilkay Gündogan double inspires Manchester City as third straight title moves nearer

Erling Haaland scores 52nd goal of the season as Pep Guardiola’s side pile more pressure on Toffees

Everton 0 Manchester City 3

And to think a trip to Goodison Park in the midst of a Champions League semi-final was considered the most awkward assignment of what remains of Manchester City’s run-in. The notion, and Everton, were dismissed with almost contemptuous ease as another decisive contribution from Ilkay Gündogan and another goal from Erling Haaland took Pep Guardiola’s team closer to a third successive Premier League title.

Gündogan showed why City have to secure his services beyond this summer, when his contract expires, with two goals to follow up his brace against Leeds last weekend. The midfielder’s first was a stunning piece of ingenuity that deflated Everton in their fight to avoid the drop. He then set up Haaland’s 52nd goal in all competitions this season before polishing his outstanding performance with a beautiful free-kick beyond Jordan Pickford. Ultimately Guardiola’s only issue was the timing of a game moved due to Eurovision, with Real Madrid visiting the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Everton were giving a rousing reception by their fans after suffering a record 10th home league defeat of the season. Sean Dyche’s team were outclassed and their fate was always more likely to be decided in the final two games at Wolves and at home to Bournemouth. Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s departure at half-time will be a monumental setback should it prove the result of injury.

It was a close, intriguing game before the immaculate Gündogan took it away from Everton in the blink of an eye. City dominated possession as usual but Dyche’s team held the league leaders at bay with the same defensive commitment and well-planned threat on the counterattack that had devastated Brighton on Monday. Haaland barely had a touch in the first half, such was Everton’s initial success in nullifying Guardiola’s side. The ball was in the Everton net when he did, such is the potency of the phenomenal forward.


Guardiola made four changes from the Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid with Wednesday’s second leg in mind. Dyche was forced into one from the Brighton victory, Mason Holgate being drafted in as an emergency left back in place of the injured Vitaliy Mykolenko, and the right footed, error prone defender had a predictably desperate afternoon.

Holgate almost played in Haaland with a sloppy back pass in the opening minutes and required constant support from Dwight McNeil in the battle with Riyad Mahrez. It was an unsuccessful fight. Holgate’s distribution was poor throughout and there were loud cheers from the home crowd when his misery was ended with a 55th-minute substitution.

Everton were dangerous on the break before falling behind and it needed two lightening interventions from Kyle Walker to prevent Abdoulaye Doucouré bursting through on to an Alex Iwobi pass and James Garner releasing Calvert-Lewin into the penalty area. Walker’s second clearance led to an Everton corner that James Tarkowski headed back across goal towards Holgate. Two yards out at the back post, and unmarked, the defender skied over a glorious opportunity.

The miss assumed greater significance two minutes later when Gündogan conjured an exquisite opener for the champions. There appeared little danger when Mahrez’s cross found the midfielder with his back to goal on the six-yard line and with Nathan Patterson in close attendance. Gündogan controlled the delivery on his right thigh and then, in the same motion, hooked a stunning finish with his right foot beyond Jordan Pickford. There was a fleeting moment of stunned silence around Goodison before the City fans began celebrating a magical step towards another title.

City doubled their lead two minutes later. Gündogan was again involved, picking up a defensive header from Patterson and gliding down the left before floating a perfect cross towards Haaland. The centre forward towered over the static Holgate to beat Pickford with an unstoppable header. Haaland’s 36th league goal of the season, and 52nd in total, arrived in the ground where William Ralph ‘Dixie’ Dean scored a record 60 league goals in 1927-28.

Gündogan was denied his second when Yerry Mina threw himself in the way of a Mahrez cross towards the near post on the stroke of half-time. It arrived moments after the restart, however, when Holgate gifted City possession with a careless header across his own defensive line. Phil Foden breezed through but was taken out by Garner. Gündogan swept the resulting free-kick two yards inside Pickford’s right-hand post with the Everton goalkeeper nowhere near the midfielder’s fourth goal in two league games.

Dyche switched to a back five in an attempt to prevent any further damage to Everton’s goal difference, which could be vital in the fight against relegation, while Guardiola withdrew his goalscorers with 12 minutes remaining with thoughts turning to Real. City coasted to an 11th Premier League win in succession. Unstoppable. – Guardian