Belfast Telegraph

City are on top and won't give up: Pep

Net gains: Aymeric Laporte celebrates his opener in City’s win over Everton which takes them top
Net gains: Aymeric Laporte celebrates his opener in City’s win over Everton which takes them top

By Graham Luney

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has warned Liverpool that his side will keep up their relentless pursuit of the title after returning to the top of the Premier League for the first time since December 16.

Goals from defender Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus sealed a 2-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park and moved the champions ahead of the Reds on goal difference, having played one game more.

Guardiola, whose side took advantage after Liverpool only managed a draw at West Ham on Monday, said: "I don't know how far we will get, maybe we will die in the road, but we are trying. We have played one more game, it's good to be top and Liverpool have a game at Old Trafford. Four or five days ago we could have been seven points behind, it is a lesson to never give up."

Guardiola added: “We have an incredible test on Sunday against Chelsea.”

Defender Laporte met David Silva’s free-kick to head home his fourth goal of the season, putting City in front just before half-time, and Jesus sealed victory in stoppage time.

The City chief said: “Goodison Park, 0-2, we have to be happy. We had problems in the second half but it was a good game. In terms of consistency, we didn’t concede one shot on target. To score in the last minute of the first half helped us a lot.

“We are not the tallest team in the world so we don’t expect to score from set-pieces but Mikel Arteta works a lot on them. Many decisions could be better, but that is my job to analyse those.

“The first half we arrived in positions we wanted to. Second half we had more problems. We tired after our effort in the last game but two goals, a clean sheet and a good performance.

“Gabriel Jesus has scored nine goals in a short time and Sergio (Aguero) got three at the weekend. It is important to have two good strikers. I am so satisfied, we have a game every three days for three months. We have a lot of games in our legs and minds.

“Top of the table — we have to wait for Liverpool to go to Old Trafford (on February 24) and if they win we are not top. We have a tough game against Chelsea, it is non-stop.”

City striker Jesus said his side’s performance reflected their hunger to keep the pressure on Liverpool in the title sprint.

“For me it is amazing, not just the goal but because the team played very well,” he said.

“We came to win the game and to work hard, we know that when teams come here it’s so difficult. They have a lot of amazing players and an amazing manager.

“Everyone won the game. We know that it is going to be difficult. We want to play well in every game and at the end of the season we want the title.”

Everton stay ninth after suffering a fourth defeat in five Premier League games at Goodison Park, though they should take some encouragement from a resilient display that was a notable improvement on their performances in recent weeks.

Toffees boss Marco Silva said: “It is strange when you lose and play like that. The times we conceded were tough for us. My feeling is that they didn’t deserve that, but we have to be positive. I am not happy that we lost but I take many positives.

“Together, like I saw tonight, for sure we will be stronger. We always tried to score, the game was open until the end, we had a strong attitude.

“We had to forget straight away the way we played against Wolves and we did. We are talking about set-pieces every time, it is more mental.

“I think 99% of teams in the Premier League defend in the same way as us but when you are so negative about something sometimes bad things come.”

The Everton chief remained positive despite the loss and is confident his men can reward the fans with better results.

He added: “There are positives but, again, we didn’t take the points we want and we are working to achieve that. At the moment bad things come too easily, we conceded after 47 and 97 minutes. Just working like we did tonight, things will change for us, I am really positive. The team showed what we must do.

“The fans are so good, at the end of the match what they did for our players, I don’t have doubts. We are all together and we will give them what they want and what they deserve.

“Everything was different compared to Wolves, I have to be honest. This has to be our image as a team. We must be consistent, it is an obligation for us.”

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