Fernandinho stood out as Manchester City left it late to beat Everton 2-0 and book their place in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday.
The first half was a drab affair, with chances coming few and far between and Everton were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure that Manchester City looked to create. In fact, the Toffees managed to conjure up the better of the chances as Yerry Mina was denied off the line by Oleksandr Zinchenko while Zack Steffen nearly allowed the hosts a clear sight at goal with a gaffe.
Post the interval, it was more of the same for the most part, although Manchester City gradually did start to find the openings, with Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden coming within whiskers of scoring. The deadlock was finally broken six minutes from regulation time, as Ilkay Gundogan headed in from close range.
The win was then rounded off in the 90th minute when Kevin De Bruyne produced a brilliant finish to make it 2-0 and seal the deal for Manchester City, who reached the FA Cup semi-finals at the expense of Everton. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Pep Guardiola’s men.
Zack Steffen: 6/10
Did not have a great deal to do, with Everton sitting back to absorb the pressure that Manchester City looked to create. Nearly stuffed up when he made a meal of a simple sweeping job. Did not get punished, though, and kept a clean sheet.
Kyle Walker: 7/10
A decent enough display by Walker, who was extremely solid in his performance at the back, winning 4 duels. Also completed 96 of the 103 passes he attempted, playing his part in asserting Manchester City’s dominance over Everton. Did not fashion too many chances, though.
Ruben Dias: 7/10
Ruben Dias was as Ruben Dias usually is, organising the backline smartly to make sure that Everton never really managed to trouble Steffen over the course of the ninety. Won 3 duels while making 4 clearances while also boasting a 94 percent passing rate.
Aymeric Laporte: 6.5/10
There were a few nervy moments, but Laporte also chipped in with one critical defensive moment to ensure the game remained goalless in the first half, sparing Steffen’s blushes close to half-time. Won 5 duels while making 3 clearances, but also gave the ball away cheaply on a few occasions.
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 7/10
Not too many positive moments in the final third to write home about. However, Zinchenko made a big difference at the back, as it was he who cleared the ball out of danger when Richarlison had headed Lucas Digne’s corner goalwards. Won each of the duels he contested (2/2).
Bernardo Silva: 6/10
Sub-par from Bernardo Silva, who, despite his usual tireless efforts on the pitch, did not quite deliver the goods. This time around, the Portuguese international needed to bring out the playmaker in him, but his passes did not quite click, even though he misplaced just two of them. Needed to be more adventurous with his utilisation of the ball.
The clear standout in the game. While the rest of the Manchester City players faltered at different stages of the contest, Fernandinho was near-faultless in his display. The veteran Brazilian midfielder barely let the Everton players drift past him, winning 13 duels while also popping up higher up the pitch to look for the openings. Still performing at a very high level despite reaching the twilight of his career.
Ilkay Gundogan: 7/10
— Goal (@goal) March 20, 2021
You just cannot stop this man from scoring right now. Just when it was starting to look like the game was headed to an all-square finish at the end of regulation time, up popped Gundogan inside the Everton box to score from a diving header. Having said that, the German international was a tad bit wasteful with his utilisation of the ball, losing possession 19 times.
Phil Foden: 6.5/10
The best of the front men, Foden was typically purposeful in his display, but could not really manage to conjure up the openings apart from playing 1 key pass. However, he did come close to scoring while three of his efforts were also blocked. Will see better days.
Gabriel Jesus: 5/10
Back in the starting lineup, Jesus produced a bit of stinker against Everton, who found a way to completely neutralise him in the game. The Brazilian international, in fact, did not manage a single shot at goal while giving the ball away an alarming 19 times. Has to do better.
Raheem Sterling: 6/10
Not the best of performances by Sterling. While he did carry a threat with his movement, his output did not always back that up. That being said, though, the English international did come the closest to breaching the Everton goal before the deadlock was broken, with Joao Virginia making a superb save to deny him.
Riyad Mahrez: 7/10
The man in form for Manchester City in recent weeks, Mahrez once again made the difference, this time off the bench. Nicked the ball in the build-up to the goal that Kevin De Bruyne scored and was generally positive in his output higher up the pitch.
Kevin De Bruyne: 8/10
No player created more chances for Man City vs. Everton than Kevin De Bruyne (2) despite coming on in the 80th minute.
He had a hand in the first and scored the second himself. pic.twitter.com/3MIm8z04sS
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 20, 2021
Players arriving on the scene with less than 15 minutes left do not usually get rated. But, such was De Bruyne’s impact that he has to get a rating, having been involved in the lead-up to Gundogan’s goal before grabbing one himself late on.
A late introduction, Rodri did not play enough to be rated, but was involved in an expert fashion in the build-up to De Bruyne’s goal.