Gabriel Jesus scored twice as Manchester City survived a nervy finish to hold off Everton and end Carlo Ancelotti’s unbeaten start as Toffees manager.
City had to wait until the second half to break down a well-drilled Everton side who defended with discipline and in numbers, but Jesus provided the spark of genius they needed.
He collected an Ilkay Gundogan pass on the edge of the area to put Pep Guardiola’s side ahead with a brilliant curling right-footed shot into the top corner that Jordan Pickford got a hand to, but could not keep out.
Seven minutes later, the Brazilian made it 2-0, this time with his left foot, when he darted on to a Riyad Mahrez pass and buried a low shot past Pickford.
The City fans – who had earlier seen a close-range Phil Foden strike ruled out for offside by the video assistant referee – did not celebrate either goal fully until the game had restarted.
Guardiola’s side also had to wait before securing the three points, with a couple of Ancelotti tactical tweaks seeing Everton go on the attack, and soon pull a goal back.
It came courtesy of a City mistake when stand-in goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, playing because Ederson was ill, tried to play out from the back but under-hit his pass.
Seconds later the ball was in the back of his net when Theo Walcott’s deflected cross found Richarlison unmarked to tap in at the back post.
Alarm bells were suddenly ringing for City, who had capitulated from 2-0 up to lose against Wolves last week – albeit with 10 men for most of the match – but this time they saw the game out.
While Everton looked dangerous when they came forward, the only real scare for the home side came when substitute Moise Kean found space in their area to acrobatically fire wide.
Guardiola makes changes to try to make up ground
The last decade saw City record the highest number of Premier League titles (four), points (818), wins (251) and goals (845).
But they began the 2020s playing catch-up, not just to runaway leaders Liverpool, but also to Leicester, who remain a point clear of them in second place.
Guardiola’s attempts to make up ground, and perhaps improve a porous defence before their Champions League campaign resumes next month, saw him change his formation as well as his personnel at the end of a frenetic festive period.
Rodri, usually a holding midfielder, dropped into a three-man central defence, with Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne operating as a dual midfield pivot in front of them.
That gave City’s wing-backs, Benjamin Mendy and Joao Cancelo, licence to roam forward and they both impressed on the ball in the opposition half.
Rumours persist about Cancelo’s future at the club but he provided a perfect cross for Foden to find the net in the first half, only for VAR to show that Mahrez was offside earlier in the move.
There remain doubts about City at the back, however, particularly from set-pieces – Yerry Mina and Dominic Calvert-Lewin both could have punished the hosts for poor marking at corners – and there was relief in the stands and on the pitch at the final whistle.