Edin Dzeko’s brace helped Manchester City come from behind to beat Everton 3-2 and stay in control of the Premier League title race today.
City had won just one of its last 15 matches at Goodison Park and looked like continuing its poor run when Ross Barkley curled in a brilliant shot to give Everton an 11th-minute lead.
However, Sergio Aguero equalized in the 22nd – before going off with an apparent groin injury – and Dzeko scored twice in a five-minute span around halftime to put City 3-1 ahead.
Romelu Lukaku’s goal in the 65th set up a tense finish but City held on to provisionally go top of the standings on goal difference from Liverpool. Victories in its two remaining games – at home to Aston Villa on Wednesday and West Ham on Sunday – should clinch City a second championship in three years.
Liverpool, which lost 2-0 to Chelsea last weekend, was looking for a big favor from its Merseyside neighbor to wrest back the advantage in this most open title race and Barkley’s goal will have been celebrated as much across Stanley Park as by Everton fans inside Goodison Park.
The 20-year-old midfielder, looking to force his way into Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the upcoming World Cup, showed a glimpse of his undoubted class by curling a first-time shot into the top corner from just outside the area.
But Everton was second best after that with City controlling possession and looking more dangerous going forward – even with the 28th-minute withdrawal of Aguero that continued his frustrating, injury-plagued second half of the season.
The Argentina striker had been signaling to City’s bench that he was hampered by his injury minutes before he sprinted onto Yaya Toure’s through-ball and drove a low shot inside goalkeeper Tim Howard’s near post for his 28th – and possibly last – goal of the season. Aguero slumped to the ground five minutes later and was helped off the pitch, potentially making him a doubt for the World Cup.
City missed Aguero’s pace going forward but, with Toure pushing further forward in manager Manuel Pellegrini’s rejigged formation, Everton’s defense still lacked pace. And just before halftime, Dzeko rose to head home James Milner’s floated cross, moments after the striker had seen his shot saved by Howard.
In a lively start to the second half, City goalkeeper Joe Hart produced a brilliant save to tip Steven Naismith’s shot around the post.
City then broke at the other end, Fernandinho clipping a pass to Nasri, who went outside his marker and crossed low for Dzeko to prod in from six meters.
The visitors appeared to be coasting to victory but Lukaku headed in a cross from Leighton Baines in off the post and City was suddenly under pressure.
There were few scares in a nervy final quarter, though, as City ended a four-game losing streak at Goodison Park to become the big favorite for the title.