Manchester City had two penalties saved and needed a 72nd-minute goal by Nolito to earn a 1-1 draw against Everton in the English Premier League, extending its winless run under Pep Guardiola to three games on Saturday.
It’s the first wobble of Guardiola’s short reign at Etihad Stadium but this was a match City should have won, only for Kevin De Bruyne and substitute Sergio Aguero to be denied by goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg from spot kicks either side of halftime.
Romelu Lukaku put Everton in front against the run of play in the 64th, his sixth goal in his last five league games, before City grabbed the equalizer its dominance merited when Nolito headed in David Silva’s cross less than a minute after coming on as a substitute.
“We did absolutely everything,” Guardiola said, after seeing his team have 72 percent possession and 19 shots on goal.
This draw for City came after a 3-3 draw at Celtic in the Champions League and a 2-0 loss at Tottenham in the league. The team opened the season with 10 straight wins.
City is now only top of the Premier League on goal difference from Arsenal.
Stekelenburg backed up his penalty saves by producing a brilliant save to tip De Bruyne’s shot around the post in the last minutes, leading Everton manager Ronald Koeman to say: “Maybe the goalkeeper played his best game ever.”
“City are the best team in my managerial career I have played against,” Koeman added.
It was a fascinating tactical battle between Guardiola and Koeman, who played together at Barcelona in the early 1990s and were disciples of the Spanish club’s then-coach, Johan Cruyff. Koeman was a mentor and roommate to Guardiola in those days, teaching an eager-to-learn youngster about tactics and styles of play.
Now Guardiola’s tactical acumen is widely regarded as second to none, and intriguingly he switched to a 3-2-4-1 formation, playing three men in defense for the first time as City manager.
Guardiola also chose to start with Aguero on the bench after the striker’s exertions with Argentina over the international break, meaning the team’s top scorer wasn’t on the field when City was awarded its first penalty in the major incident of the first half, after Silva was tripped by Jagielka.
De Bruyne replaced Aguero as penalty-taker and his kick was a nice height for Stekelenburg, who parried the ball away diving to his left.
Aguero was on the pitch for 14 minutes when he earned his own penalty, with Jagielka again the Everton player committing the foul. Stekelenburg dived the correct way again, clawing away Aguero’s attempt. Aguero has missed four penalties for club and country this season.
By then, Lukaku had put Everton ahead with a rare attack by the visitors, running onto a flick by Yannick Bolasie in central midfield, dribbling past last-man Gael Clichy and burying a low finish.
Nolito, back from a three-match domestic suspension, was on the field only a matter of seconds before he made his way into the area and headed Silva’s cross inside the near post.