Manchester City 1-1 Everton: Gray’s stunner earns Toffees crucial point
Demarai Gray scored a stunning equaliser as struggling Everton ended 2022 by snatching an unexpected point against Manchester City.
Erling Haaland looked to have put champions City on course for victory in a scrappy Premier League contest at the Etihad Stadium with his 27th goal in just 21 appearances for the club.
The prolific Norwegian struck in clinical fashion after 24 minutes but Gray responded with a sublime curling effort from the edge of the area just after the hour.
John Stones had earlier hit the post against his former club but Everton showed great resilience to hang on and limit City’s formidable Haaland-led attack.
It ended a run of four games without a win for the Merseysiders and eased some of the pressure on manager Frank Lampard.
Haaland, as ever, had looked like he would make the difference early on. He required treatment after a clash with Ben Godfrey inside the first minute and, after he finally got back to his feet, it became apparent Everton had riled him.
The 22-year-old hardly lacks motivation but he seemed especially pumped up for this contest, getting involved in a running battle with James Tarkowski.
He threatened for the first time when he latched on to a fine through-ball from Kevin De Bruyne and rounded Jordan Pickford but fired into the side-netting.
City claimed the lead when Riyad Mahrez slalomed his way through the area and pulled back for Haaland, who finished clinically on the turn.
Haaland was involved in another key moment just before the interval after being fouled by Godfrey outside the area.
Perhaps feeling aggrieved that some earlier decisions had gone against him, he celebrated the award of the free-kick with a double fist-pump. Just moments later he was booked for a rash challenge on Vitaliy Mykolenko as emotions got the better of him.
In between those incidents came the small matter of Stones heading against the woodwork from the set-piece expertly taken by De Bruyne.
Everton had welcomed Dominic Calvert-Lewin back into their side after a number of injuries but they struggled to provide him much service.
Idrissa Gana Gueye did curl in one dangerous cross but Calvert-Lewin was unable to make clean contact with his header.
The second half got off to a slow start, not helped by a lengthy hold-up for one of the assistant referees to have his communication equipment repaired.
When play restarted it was Everton who surprisingly clicked into gear first, bringing them an unlikely equaliser just after the hour.
City backed off as Gray charged into the area, and although he slipped as he tried to cut back inside Manuel Akanji, he quickly regained his composure to curl a fine shot into the top corner.
Everton’s attempts to disrupt the flow of the game then began to frustrate City. De Bruyne shrugged off some crude challenges but Jack Grealish and Haaland got some rough treatment.
City piled on the pressure in the latter stages but Pickford saved well from Mahrez in a goalmouth scramble and numerous other attempts on goal were blocked.
With 11 minutes of stoppage time played, it was a nervy finish for the visitors but they held on with some dogged defending.