Pep Guardiola suffered his heaviest ever league defeat in management at Goodison Park as Everton thrashed Manchester City.
Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring for the Toffees with a smart first time finish, before his countryman Kevin Mirallas doubled their lead just a minute after half-time.
But it was 18 year-old Tom Davies who stole the headlines, netting his first ever goal for his boyhood club which rounded off a magnificent all-round performance.
And debutant Ademola Lookman scored his first goal for Everton in injury-time, the 19 year-old coming off the bench to add the finishing touch to a memorable win.
Davies’ star shines brightest
Ronald Koeman described Sunday afternoon’s display as “perfect” in his post match comments. And while it’s true that Evertonians were witness to an excellent team performance, no one will begrudge Tom Davies taking the plaudits for his role in the victory.
From the first whistle to the last, the teenager was magnificent. It was an all-round performance that seasoned pros like Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry would be proud of and it was exactly these experienced midfielders who were out-shone by young Davies.
In Davies, Everton have a player who not only relishes in the physical battle that is professional football, but who can contribute to the team’s forward play. Someone who looks equally happy -and more importantly, equally effective- disrupting the rhythms of Premier League title chasers as he is making things happen at the other end.
And while Evertonians have been quietly marvelling at his combative and assured displays for the past few weeks now, it was his direct involvement in two of Everton’s four goals against City that has helped announce Davies on a national level.
His first half interception was the beginning of the end for Guardiola’s side. Driving forward into the City half, it was his vision that spotted the run of Mirallas and his technique that released the Belgian with a perfectly timed pass. And when Mirallas found his compatriot Lukaku, there was only one outcome from inside the area.
There was everything and more to admire about his goal too. Picking up the ball deep in his own half while helping snuff out a City attack, Davies sees the space and knows he can get his team playing higher up by driving into it. When he suddenly becomes crowded out by two City players, he has the confidence to attempt a sublime piece of skill to wrong-foot both opponents. And when the ball finds its way back to him inside the area, Davies has the cool head to finish (albeit with the help of a slight Toure deflection).
Lookman joins Everton’s teen sensations
But Davies wasn’t the only teenager to make an impact. Barely four minutes into his debut, all but two weeks after swapping The Valley for Goodison Park, the most expensive player from England’s third tier of league football pounced on a John Stones error to score Everton’s fourth.
In doing so Lookman became the 17th teenager to score for Everton in the Premier League, and follows in the illustrious footsteps of club legends Tommy Lawton, Joe Royle and Dixie Dean, as players to have scored before their 20th birthday.
Despite two teens getting on the scoresheet, James Vaughan still holds the club record for youngest ever goalscorer when he slotted the fourth in an identical scoreline against Crystal Palace in 2005.
He might not be younger, but he was quicker. Vaughan took 13 minutes to find the back of the net after his introduction from the bench, but the former Charlton striker needed just four minutes to break his duck. There’s only one man who can claim a quicker goal in royal blue – can you name him?
Was that the most complete display under Koeman?
On balance, its been a mixed season for Everton. Both in terms of results and performances, their fictional report card would certainly read “room for improvement”.
Evertonians have seen the very best and the very worst of their side this season, with players fluctuating frustratingly between the two. An ugly first half has very often been followed by a rousing and promising second.
But from start to finish Everton were excellent. Organised and committed, patient and ruthless. The Toffees put City to the sword with roughly half the amount of touches (455-899), less than half the amount of passes (270-620) and with 30% of possession.
The fact that they only had four shots on target was confirmation that their game plan worked to perfection: stifle and frustrate City and be clinical when the chances arrive. The players executed it perfectly and the reward was Everton’s finest performance under Koeman yet.
Mori still has a lot to learn
Criticising players is part and parcel of the football circus that consumes the typical football fan. Evertonians seem to like to do it as often as any, and while it pains me to have to bring up the negatives on such a wonderful afternoon, there’s no point ignoring the obvious.
While Everton’s 3-5-2 formation was pitch perfect against Pep’s 4-2-3-1, not everyone was hitting the right note. Ramiro Funes-Mori certainly looks like he’s enjoying the physicality and excitement of the Premier League, but he’s still got some way to proving himself as a top centre-half.
Too many times the Argentine could be found ball-watching or dragged too far out of position. Twice Raheem Sterling peeled off him to collect a floated ball in behind. Twice nothing came of it, but that’s not the point.
In the first half Funes-Mori was overly keen to win back possession in City’s half. The charging attempt was easily side-stepped and suddenly City had men over in a counter-attack with a gaping hole in Everton’s defence. It came to nothing in the end, but again that’s not the point.
The point is Funes-Mori’s over-eagerness to win the ball, his lack of awareness at times and his positional sense (coupled with an awkward style of passing that has Gwladys Street hearts in mouths) all add up to a worrying conclusion. Unless he can learn that not every header needs to be won and can better understand his role as the last line of defence, Funes-Mori might not have a long-term future at Goodison Park.
Bitter Cascarino gets it spectacularly wrong – again
According to Sky Sports and talkSPORT pundit (that should tell you everything you need to know) Tony Cascarino, Lukaku was “bang out of order” for attempting to get something on Davies’ goalbound effort.
Speaking on Sky Sports News’ Premier League Daily show, Cascarino said he “tried to steal young Tom Davies’ goal”. Whether his true intentions were in fact driven by a desire to carry out goal-related crimes, unfortunately can’t be verified.
But Lukaku did the right thing following up Davies’ goal-bound chip. Yes Davies had done the hard work and it would have been disappointing for him not to get on the score sheet had Lukaku actually got a touch. But when you think of the alternative, it’s easy to see why he was right to try.
Had a recovering City defender attempted a last-ditch slide tackle, and managed to poke it away from goal, Lukaku would still be under the wrath of Cascarino but for very different reasons. Davies’ goal came in the 79th minute. It’s not unrealistic to suppose City could have conjured two goals in 10 minutes. How would Evertonians feel had they drawn the game because Lukaku couldn’t make sure from a yard out?
Then again, Cascarino’s opinion’s on Lukaku have been sketchy at best. A simple Google search for ‘tony cascarino lukaku’ returns no fewer than six entries of the former Chelsea man’s history for getting it completely wrong on the Belgian.
“Romelu Lukaku isn’t good enough for Chelsea – Cascarino | talkSPORT”
“Koeman should replace Lukaku with Rondon – Football Insider”*
*Quoted text is from webpage headlines, not direct quotes.
Just because you say it enough times Tony, it doesn’t make it true. Not that you’ll learn any different working for Sky.