Frank Lampard explained what Everton did to help nullify reigning champions Man City, and labelled one opposing player “special”.
The Toffees earned a much-needed point at the Etihad, thanks to a battling performance from Lampard’s team and a Demarai Gray wondergoal.
Erling Haaland had an enthralling individual battle with Ben Godfrey, with tensions bubbling under the surface throughout after he was smashed by the defender in the early moments of the game.
City’s number nine responded emphatically after opening the scoring in the 24th minute, converting an excellent low cross by Riyad Mahrez after he took on two Everton defenders. He didn’t hide his emotions with his celebration, either.
It seemed after that the Premier League champions would score more goals in typical City style, but fantastic fighting performances from Godfrey, Conor Coady, and James Tarkowski prevented that.
In the second half, Everton looked more of a threat on the counterattack and found the equaliser thanks to a brilliant goal by Gray. The forward found the top corner with a thunderous right-footed strike, shooting from just inside the City penalty area.
Haaland could arguably have been sent off, too, after picking up a card for a poor tackle on Vitaly Mykolenko and then later in the match fouling Tarkowski, clattering him with his forearm.
Everton did nearly let the point slip away though after Rodri missed a header at the back post in the last chance of the match.
But overall, it was a brave performance from Everton, unrecognisable to their recent 2-1 defeat to Wolves at Goodison Park. Without a doubt, Lampard will be ecstatic to have picked up a point at the Etihad.
Denying Man City space was key – Lampard
Speaking to Premier League Productions via BBC Sport after the match Lampard said: “We showed a lot of personality and work ethic.
“When you play a team of City’s level you understand what’s coming. If you open up against them they put you to bed so we had to have a certain style and the players kept to that and scored a goal. It’s very hard but they did it.
“We had to not give them the space they wanted. I thought we were pretty good at that. We had some great blocks and defending too.
“When you stay in the game you have a bit of belief and you just need some moments. We got a special moment. You need that here at City.
“The quality of the finish was top drawer. Demarai Gray wants more of that and I do. It got us the point. You ride your luck a tiny bit of course. We deserved more last week after the result. Sometimes football pays you back in different ways.”
When asked about the battle between Godfrey and Haaland, he added: “Two physical lads! Erling Haaland, what a player, to see him in the flesh, he’s a special player. I like that side of it with Ben Godfrey.
“It’s a big point for us. People are waiting. We have to defend ourselves by performances. The reaction to the result the other day was all negative.
“You have to wait for your day. We haven’t achieved anything yet. It’s a point at the champions but we need to go and get more points.”
Ben Godfrey relished Haaland scrap
After what was arguably a man of the match-deserving performance from Godfrey, the defender lauded Everton’s “team spirit” and character.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, he said: “Massive. I think we showed our character today. We’ve always had a team spirit. That’s the standard. The work rate and togetherness. It feels good to get a point.
“It’s always going to be tough. I don’t need to tell you Erling Haaland’s a good player. I just had to do my job. Yeah of course he was [upset]. You could see his reaction. He got his goal and is always causing people problems and it’s those challenges you have to look forward to.
“You come here and give yourself a chance to score and we did that. I’ve seen [Demarai Gray] do that day in, day out in training. It’s nothing less than he deserved.
“To be 1-0 down at half-time it’s easy to let that get to you but we knew we would get a chance. We’ll take the point.
“The Boxing Day result was upsetting. To concede so late on was never nice. That highlights our character to have such a disappointing result then come to a place like City and get a result.”
Everton will face Brighton at Goodison Park in their next Premier League match, so they will be hoping to build on this fantastic result with three points in the new year.
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