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Everton 4-0 Manchester City: Toffees counter hammers leaky City

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  • Lukaku opened scoring
  • Mirallas made it 2-0 straight out of half
  • 18-year-old hits Everton’s third

After Everton’s second goal, Pep Guardiola was shown with a gloomy expression, staring straight into the ground without even watching as the game continued on. It was a fitting expression as Everton’s cutting edge on the counter-attack downed a leaky Manchester City 4-0 at Goodison Park.

On a day of Manchester vs. Liverpool, the latter struck the first blow, leaving Manchester City a whopping 10 points adrift of the league’s top spot as Everton’s counter-attack was ruthless, a stark contrast to the toothless visitors. The Toffees picked up four shots on target on the day, and Claudio Bravo came up empty-handed on all four.

Everton looked early on for the long ball to Romelu Lukaku, while City maintained possession with little result. On the break, Everton had the ball in the net through Kevin Mirallas, but it was ruled out as Seamus Coleman was offside. Following a cagey first 10 minutes, the game sprung open.

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City had its own early chance, also on the break, as Kevin De Bruyne sprung down the left and fed Raheem Sterling one-on-one with Leighton Baines in the box. Joel Robles came out of the net and smothered the ball, taking down Sterling as well with no call from referee Mark Clattenburg. They had another on 25 minutes as de Bruyne again from the left sent a spectacular ball to the far post where David Silva was waiting all alone, but Robles was again there to smother it before Silva could get a good shot off.

Everton had fewer chances, but took the one big one it had. After Gael Clichy gave the ball away in midfield, 18-year-old Tom Davies threaded a perfect through-ball to Mirallas, and his square pass across the box to Lukaku allowed the Belgian to simply touch home.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

After going down, City continued to pummel the Everton goal. Sterling unleashed a vicious one from outside the box that went just wide on 38 minutes. Manchester City finished with a massive 71% possession, but nothing to show for it.

Out of halftime, Everton stunned the visitors straight away. Yaya Toure gave the ball away this time, and Ross Barkley fed Mirallas who hit into the far corner just past a sliding John Stones, just 62 seconds into the second half, leaving Pep Guardiola staring straight into the ground.

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Changes were rung past the hour mark, as Guardiola replaced Pablo Zabaleta with striker Kelechi Iheanacho, while Ronald Koeman brought on Morgan Schneiderlin for his Everton debut, but it was another first that put an exclamation mark on the game as the 18-year-old Davies picked up his first Premier League goal with a smart finish dinked over a charging Claudio Bravo.

They’d get a fourth in laughable fashion, through 19-year-old Ademola Lookman on his Premier League debut. John Stones, in an attempt to clear the ball, fired it against Seamus Coleman. The ball caromed back into the box straight into the path of Lookman, who hit through the legs of Claudio Bravo and into the back of the net.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

The Everton win brings them up to 33 points, although the gap between their 7th place and Manchester United in 6th is still a large six points with the Red Devils still yet to play. Manchester City, meanwhile, drops a full 10 points behind leaders Chelsea, while they remain outside the top four, two back of both Liverpool and Arsenal.

Luiz back in Chelsea squad after being dropped by Conte

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David Luiz‘s pair of stints at Chelsea have been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride of emotions — joyous highs and painful lows.

[ MORE: Pogba, Zlatan back form injuries; available this weekend ]

After returning to the club for a second time in the summer of 2016, Luiz instantly slotted into Antonio Conte‘s three-man backline and was a pivotal part of the Blues’ title-winning team last season.

Much like the second half of his first four seasons at Chelsea, Luiz’s second season (the second time around) has started so hotly. After playing eight of the first 10 games during Chelsea’s ongoing title defense, Luiz was unexpectedly dropped from the squad for the victory over Manchester United.

Now, two weeks later, Conte has announced that Luiz has rejoined the squad and is available for selection when his side visits West Brom on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold) — quotes from the Guardian:

“David Luiz is in the squad, yes. [His exclusion] was a technical decision. When it’s a technical decision every player has to react well and accept my decision. It’s normal, this.

“I like to speak about the team and the next game that we have to pay attention to. This is the most important thing, not speaking about a single player. I repeat: I don’t like to speak about a single player.”

Pogba, Zlatan, Rojo return from injuries for Man Utd-Newcastle

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The only saving grace when it comes to injuries is that, eventually (usually), players recover from them and return to the team.

[ MORE: 2018 World Cup Power Rankings — who comes out on top? ]

It’s been a long seven months for the soccer world to be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic (torn ACL on April 20), just as it’s been a painfully long 10 weeks for Manchester United fans following Paul Pogba‘s hamstring injury on Sept. 12. Man United have dropped eight points during the latter’s absence and now coincidentally sit eight points behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

A bit of good news on this Friday: United manager Jose Mourinho announced today that the dynamic duo, along with defender Marcos Rojo (knee ligament damage on April 20) have returned to full fitness and will be available for selection during Saturday’s home clash with Newcastle United (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com) — quotes from ManUtd.com:

“The players that stayed here and [were] recovering from injuries, even the ones that are recovering from big injuries, they are ready to play — Pogba, Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo.”

“[Ibrahimovic] made a full recovery. Now you cannot expect him to be ready to play 90 minutes or to be ready to play consecutive matches like he did all his career.

“Now he needs time to be back to his level, his fitness, his confidence, his sharpness, his everything. But, from the clinical point of view, to be good and ready is fantastic.”

2018 World Cup Power Rankings — 7 months B.W.C.

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209 days — that’s how long the world is still being made to wait for the opening game of the 2018 World Cup. It’s close, in that all 32 berths have been secured, but still so far, in that the draw is still two weeks away.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s 2018 World Cup coverage | USMNT | Premier League ]

Perhaps then, and only then, will it begin to feel really real.

According to our esteemed panelists — Joe Prince-Wright, Nicholas Mendola, Kyle Bonn, Matt Reed, Dan Karell and yours truly — four clear-cut favorites for the semifinals have separated themselves from the rest of the pack, followed by another six or eight sides with one half of their squad firing on all cylinders but some serious kinks to work out elsewhere.

[ MORE: Round 1 of the WC power rankings | Round 2 ]

Finally, the latest edition of PST’s 2018 World Cup Power Rankings, now featuring all 32 teams qualified for Russia…

Team Points Best Worst
1 (1) Germany 189 1 2
2 (2) Brazil 188 1 3
3 (4) Spain 177 3 5
4 (3) France 176 3 5
5 (8) Argentina 158 4 10
6 (5) Belgium 156 4 10
7 (7) Portugal 153 6 10
8 (11) England 150 5 12
9 (6) Uruguay 141 6 14
10 (9) Colombia 140 7 12
11 (10) Mexico 129 8 14
12 (12) Poland 125 10 14
13 (20) Croatia 118 7 20
14 (17) Switzerland 115 12 16
15 (NR) Sweden 92 16 19
16 (NR) Denmark 86 13 23
17 (NR) Serbia 83 9 28
18 (NR) Peru 80 15 25
19 (15) Iceland 79 15 24
20 (16) Japan 71 16 27
21 (NR) Egypt 66 18 27
22 (NR) South Korea 64 13 32
23 (NR) Senegal 63 17 26
24 (18) Nigeria 58 15 27
25 (19) Costa Rica 57 14 29
26 (NR) Morocco 48 18 29
27 (NR) Australia 45 22 30
28 (NR) Russia 36 20 32
29 (NR) Iran 34 22 31
30 (NR) Tunisia 30 23 31
31 (NR) Panama 19 28 32
32 (NR) Saudi Arabia 9 31 32

Zidane anxiously awaiting goals from Ronaldo

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MADRID (AP) For Zinedine Zidane, the Madrid derby on Saturday is just what Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema need to break their scoring slump.

The Real Madrid forwards have been struggling in the Spanish league, with just two goals between them.

Ronaldo, while striking six times in the Champions League, has tallied only one in seven Liga appearances.

Benzema is having an even tougher time, with just two in 12 matches across all competitions.

“It’s true that this is not normal, but they just need to keep training and keep trying as they have been doing,” Zidane says.

“You don’t need to tell Karim and Cristiano that they should train more, it’s something they do. They will go out on the pitch and score, I am sure of it.”

Over his career, Ronaldo has thrived against Real’s crosstown rival, Atletico. He holds the record for the Spanish capital derby with 21 goals.

Benzema’s performances, however, have not been as impressive, with three goals in his last 14 league matches against Atletico.

Zidane says Ronaldo and Benzema focused on recovering their scoring form last week during the international break, when they stayed at the club instead of joining their national sides.

“We have been working on it,” he said. “What I want is that my players, my forwards, play well, and tomorrow is a good match for them to keep trying.”

Their scoring droughts have contributed to Real’s irregular season.

Real is in third place and level on points with Atletico, which is fourth after having trouble winning at its new Wanda Metropolitan Stadium.

Both sides need a victory to keep pace with leader Barcelona, which visits Leganes hours earlier.

If Barcelona wins, Madrid and Atletico will be staring at an 11-point gap by kickoff.