Manchester City came from behind to beat Everton 3-1 on their return from the Club World Cup on Wednesday, moving five points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool. Pep Guardiola’s men, chasing an unprecedented fourth consecutive English top-flight title, were in trouble when trailing 1-0 at Goodison Park, courtesy of a first-half strike from former City player Jack Harrison. But Phil Foden fizzed a shot past Jordan Pickford in the 53rd minute and Julian Alvarez put the visitors ahead from the penalty spot. Bernardo Silva capped a brilliant second-half performance for the champions, taking advantage of an error from Pickford in the closing minutes. Elsewhere, Chelsea’s Noni Madueke scored a late winner from the penalty spot in a 2-1 win against Crystal Palace to lift spirits at Stamford Bridge after a miserable 2023 while Wolves hammered fast-sinking Brentford 4-1.
City, who had won just one of their previous six league games, are now back in fourth spot with a game in hand over Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who have 42 points.
Last season’s runners-up, Arsenal, two points behind Liverpool, are in action against West Ham on Thursday.
“I remind them (of their abilities) every day,” Guardiola told Amazon Prime. “We have standards to keep. That makes us have more responsibility so the standards cannot go down.”
He added: “They showed again how special they are. We know after six games with just one win the people were asking, which is normal because it is all about results, but we are close.”
City came into the match against Everton on a high after winning the Club World Cup last week in Saudi Arabia– their fifth trophy during an extraordinary 2023.
But they have not had their own way in the Premier League in recent weeks.
City forced Sean Dyche’s Everton onto the back foot early but could not make their domination of possession count and it was the battling home team who engineered a breakthrough when City failed to clear.
Rodri gave the ball away in his own box and Dwight McNeil picked up the free ball, producing a fine cross for Harrison to steer home.
Harrison almost doubled the lead minutes later, forcing a fine fingertip save at full stretch from Ederson in the City goal.
Everton held onto their lead until the break but City, still without the injured Erling Haaland, came out full of intent in the second period.
They got the reward they deserved when Foden found himself in space on the edge of the area and hit a rocket into the bottom corner, giving England’s Pickford no chance.
Referee John Brooks awarded a penalty shortly after the hour mark, penalising Amadou Onana for handball, and Alvarez blasted it down the middle.
Silva sealed all three points when Pickford was closed down by Alvarez and the ball was deflected into his path, with the Portugal international curling into an open net.
A second straight defeat for Everton — docked 10 points last month for breaches of financial rules — leaves them just one place above the relegation zone.
Chelsea substitute Madueke won and converted an 89th-minute penalty to claim victory for stuttering Chelsea after three losses in their previous four top-flight matches.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side appeared likely to face another frustrating evening after Michael Olise had cancelled out Mykhailo Mudryk’s early goal with a brilliant finish on the stroke of half-time.
“The Premier League is really tough and we need to be consistent,” Pochettino told the BBC.
“The first half of the season has been really up and down and it’s been tough and difficult. But we’re positive and we need to show that we can compete.”
South Korean international Hwang Hee-chan scored twice as mid-table Wolves came away from Brentford with a 4-1 win, taking his Premier League tally to 10 goals for the season.
But it was a fourth straight defeat for Brentford, who are now just four points above the drop zone.
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