City beats Everton, favorite to win Premier League
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Edin Dzeko’s brace helped Manchester City come from behind to beat Everton 3-2 and stay in control of the English Premier League title race on Saturday.
City had won just one of its last 15 matches at Goodison Park and looked like continuing its poor run when Ross Barkley curled in a brilliant shot to give Everton an 11th-minute lead.
However, Sergio Aguero equalized in the 22nd — before going off with an apparent groin injury — and Dzeko scored twice in a five-minute span around halftime to put City 3-1 ahead.
Romelu Lukaku’s goal in the 65th set up a tense finish but City held on to provisionally go top of the standings on goal difference from Liverpool, and two points clear of Chelsea.
Victories in its two remaining games — at home to Aston Villa on Wednesday and West Ham on Sunday — should clinch City a second championship in three years.
“The most important thing is to pick up form at the right time and we have two home games left,” City captain Vincent Kompany said. “But the past has taught us to be careful.”
Liverpool, which lost 2-0 to Chelsea last weekend, was looking for a big favor from its Merseyside neighbor to wrest back the advantage in this most open title race, and Barkley’s goal will have been celebrated as much across Stanley Park as by Everton fans inside Goodison Park.
The 20-year-old midfielder, looking to force his way into Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the World Cup, showed a glimpse of his undoubted class by curling a first-time effort into the top corner from just outside the area and was excellent throughout.
But Everton was second best after that with City controlling possession and looking more dangerous going forward — even with the 28th-minute withdrawal of Aguero that continued his frustrating, injury-plagued second half of the season.
The Argentina striker had been signaling to City’s bench that he was hampered by his injury minutes before he latched onto Yaya Toure’s through-ball and drove a low shot inside goalkeeper Tim Howard’s near post for his 28th goal of the season. Aguero slumped to the ground five minutes later and was helped off the pitch.
“He came to me, saying he felt a strange thing in his leg,” said City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who added that Aguero would undergo tests on Sunday.
Aguero wrote on Twitter that he left the pitch as a precaution, saying “fortunately I’m fine.”
City missed Aguero’s pace going forward but, with Toure pushing further forward in Pellegrini’s rejigged formation, Everton’s defense still lacked pace. And just before halftime, Dzeko rose to head home James Milner’s floated cross, moments after the striker saw his shot saved by Howard.
In a lively start to the second half, City goalkeeper Joe Hart produced a brilliant save to tip Steven Naismith’s shot around the post — a stop Everton manager Roberto Martinez labeled the “save of the season,” and the “turning point” in the game.
For City quickly broke at the other end, Fernandinho clipping a pass to Samir Nasri, who went outside his marker and crossed low for Dzeko to prod in from six meters in the 48th.
The visitors appeared to be coasting to victory but Lukaku headed a cross from Leighton Baines in off the post and City was suddenly under pressure.
There were few scares in a nervy final quarter, though, as City ended a four-game losing streak at Goodison Park to become the big favorite for the title.
“The worst thing we must do is think that today we finished the Premier League,” Pellegrini said. “We have to play teams who are not fighting for anything, they can play without pressure.”