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Saturday, 10 February 2024 20:13

Haaland nets first goals since layoff as Man City beat Everton 2-0.

By Chris Bevan.

Erling Haaland scored his first goals since November to help Manchester City see off a determined Everton side and briefly move top of the Premier League.

The Norwegian has had to wait to find the net since his return from the foot injury that sidelined him for most of December and January, but he made up for lost time here.

His first goal was a brilliant first-time finish that gave his side a crucial breakthrough in the second half, and he made sure of the three points when he ran clear to slot past Jordan Pickford late on.

Until then, Everton's organisation and resilience had frustrated the defending champions, who had not managed a shot on target until Haaland struck with 19 minutes to go.

The visitors failed to clear a corner and the ball fell for Haaland at the back post to smash home a fierce first-time strike that Pickford got a hand to, but could not keep out.

Haaland was not done there, and made the most of the space Everton left pushing for an equaliser when he galloped on to Kevin de Bruyne's through-ball, held off Jarrad Branthwaite and found the bottom corner of the net.

City's time in top spot was limited - Liverpool reclaimed their place at the summit later on Saturday by beating Burnley at Anfield - but their return to the head of the table for the first time since 24 November is a reward for their impressive form.

This was their 10th successive win in all competitions, including the Fifa Club World Cup and FA Cup, and their sixth in a row in the Premier League.

Everton, meanwhile, remain stuck in the relegation zone and have now gone seven league games without a win.

Haaland's wait is over

Haaland's opening goal was his first for 419 minutes in the Premier League and ended his longest scoreless run in the competition, as well as his longest streak of unsuccessful shots - 17.

He had missed five league games and 10 in all competitions at the turn of the year while recovering from a stress fracture in his foot, but remained top of the scoring charts even before ending his mini-drought.

In his absence, City faltered at first but, since Christmas, they have begun to find their stride even without Haaland's goals. If he is back in the sort of form that saw him score 36 league goals last season, they will be even harder to stop.

De Bruyne's return from injury has also been a huge boost and he was the catalyst here after coming off the bench just before the hour mark.

The Belgian upped City's passing tempo and increased the pressure on Everton's tiring legs, punishing them at the end with the precise pass for his side's second goal.

Calvert-Lewin's drought goes on

Everton boss Sean Dyche, watching from the stands because of a touchline ban, must have been pleased with his side's efforts despite the result.

His gameplan worked perfectly for more than an hour but Everton's resistance could not last, and their cause was not helped by their failure to make the most of the few chances they created.

It meant they left Manchester without any reward for a battling performance, something Dyche has seen a lot of from his side this season.

Their high press forced some defensive errors from City in the first half, but the Toffees were let down by some wild finishing in front of goal.

Jack Harrison sliced one shot high and wide when a cross bounced into his path and Dominic Calvert-Lewin's weak chipped effort when he found himself in space was just as bad.

While Haaland's drought is over, Calvert-Lewin has now gone 18 games without a goal and, until he finds his shooting boots, Everton's main attacking threat remains set-pieces - of which they had very few at Etihad Stadium.