Manchester City 1
In a game where they never had a clear chance, Everton fans can thank Demarai Gray and a formidable effort from their team as they came away from Manchester with a surprising draw on Saturday afternoon.
The former Leicester City winger provided a moment of magic from the edge of the City area and that was enough for them to secure a crucial point as they look to climb the table in the New Year.
For Pep Guardiola’s side, it was a disappointing outcome to an equally disappointing performance as they let more ground slip on league leaders Arsenal.
The game began as it ended for the home team – in frustration – as Erling Haaland was caught by Ben Godfrey and had to receive treatment for an injured ankle.
The history-making striker recovered to cause issues for the Everton defence.
His first chance in a cagey affair came when Kevin DeBruyne sent him in behind the Everton back-line but the angle proved too tight once he rounded Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford as his shot hit the side netting.
Everton’s run of two wins in 25 away games in the Premier League looked as though it would continue in the 24th minute when City took the lead through Haaland after some brilliant build-up play from the home team.
De Bruyne found Grealish who played the ball out to the right wing for Riyad Mahrez.
The tricky winger then ran at the Everton defence before pulling the ball back for the Norwegian striker who slotted past the despairing Jordan Pickford.
A rather quiet affair sparked into life just before half-time as John Stones’ header after a sublime delivery from De Bruyne came crashing off the post before Haaland looked for retribution from the earlier foul by Godfrey when he came in with a rash tackle on Everton wing-back Mykolenko that saw him deservedly receive a yellow card.
A minor physical confrontation ensued between both sides following his challenge that was born out of frustration for what the 21-goal man perceived to be a lack of protection from the match officials.
That was the last action of the opening period as the champions went into the break with a slender 1-0 lead.
Despite looking solid for the majority of the first half and their 5-3-2 formation keeping City at bay, Everton manager Frank Lampard would have been concerned with his side’s lack of creativity and inefficient use of the ball as they failed to create anything of note.
That changed in the second half as their wing-backs pushed up the field and they found a way to get technicians such as Alex Iwobi and Demarai Gray on the ball in the final third of the pitch.
And it was Gray who shocked the Etihad Stadium in the 63rd minute as Everton drew level against the run of play.
Loose play from Rodri allowed the Toffees to regain possession through their hard-working midfielder Onana.
The energetic enforcer found his teammate Gray who drove forward with the ball down the left-wing.
The lively attacker then cut inside from the edge of the box onto his favoured right foot before unleashing an unstoppable shot that flew into the top corner and brought them level.
There were then several interludes in play before the hosts started to apply more intensity to their play.
That increased productivity seen a flurry of chances in quick succession as some inspired last-ditch defending from Everton kept the sides level, while Pickford made a superb save from a De Bruyne effort from 15 yards out.
The game maintained its stop-start nature as Everton players consistently took the opportunity to delay the affair by requiring treatment for injuries.
That insistence on needing medical assistance along with a stoppage in play earlier in the half to fix a technological issue for the assistant referee meant there was 11 minutes of additional time to the dismay of the Everton fans packed into the corner of the stadium.
City looked off the pace throughout the tie, but they had one last chance to claim all three points with the final action of the of the game as Mahrez delivered a fine cross to the far post where Rodri met it with a header that went agonisingly wide of Pickford’s post.
Guardiola cut a frustrated figure at half-time as his side remain behind Arsenal, while it was a welcome reprieve for the under-pressure Lampard who can be proud of his team’s work ethic and implementation of a smart tactical set-up.