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Manchester City secures comeback victory at Everton as defending champion chases Premier League title rivals

By Issy Ronald, CNN

(CNN) — Even for the all-conquering Manchester City, the art of winning can prove elusive, lost for weeks as it secured just one victory in six Premier League games, before it capped its historic year by winning a record fifth trophy at the Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

And the defending Premier League champion backed up that achievement with an impressive 3-1 victory against Everton on Wednesday, overturning a one-goal deficit in the second half.

A comeback victory, albeit against a struggling Everton, marked a statement of intent from City, as it chases its rivals from fourth place in the table following a recent stutter to its title defense in which conceding late in the game to drop points has become a familiar pattern.

“It was a massive win for us after where we came back from Saudi Arabia as world champions,” City’s manager Pep Guardiola said afterward, per the club’s official website.

“We were really pleased with how we reacted and it proved again how special this group of players is and the mentality that we have in our bones.”

City enjoyed the better start with opportunities to take the lead – two consecutive saves from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford deflected the ball wide of the goalpost and prevented Julián Álvarez from finding the back of the net, before he repelled Jack Grealish’s effort too.

But it was Everton who drew first blood when City’s defense buckled, and Rodri conceded the ball to Dwight McNeil whose cross back into the box found Jack Harrison for the opening goal.

Trailing 1-0, City faced the prospect of slipping eight points behind league leader Liverpool, especially when Harrison almost had a second goal shortly afterwards, denied only by Ederson’s acrobatic save that tipped the ball over the crossbar.

But City has assembled one of the most dominant teams in Premier League history and it displayed its title-winning credentials, coming from behind to score three goals in the second half.

And, as befitting a team as stacked with talent as City, it was a stunning goal that sparked the comeback, conjured out of nowhere in the 53rd minute by Phil Foden whose powerful strike from outside the box whistled past Pickford and into the net.

Once the City juggernaut has been kickstarted, it often proves unstoppable and 10 minutes later, Álvarez’s penalty gave Guardiola’s team the lead for the first time.

Then, Bernardo Silva’s opportunistic goal in the 86th minute put victory beyond Everton’s reach, after Pickford had misjudged clearing the ball away from danger.

“We want to be there. I know we are not top of the league, a lot of things are going to happen,” Guardiola added. “I never saw a Premier League where every game the teams down low and mid-table can beat everyone. There will be a lot of surprises and the thing is to be there.

“We are really pleased for the victory except to concede a goal after we played really good. But the second half we increased our rhythm, played to the wingers and it was really really good.”

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