Everton were controversially denied a penalty as they fell to an unfortunate 1-0 defeat at home to Manchester City.
Defensive midfielder Rodri appeared to handle in his side’s penalty area on 84 minutes but after a VAR review, no penalty was awarded.
Just two minutes before that, Phil Foden had scored the game’s only goal after capitalising on a mistake from fellow Stockport native Michael Keane.
The narrative leading up to the match had been dominated by Ukrainian players, Vitaliy Mykolenko and Oleksandr Zinchenko, representing Everton and Manchester City respectively, and the two opposing players shared an embrace prior to kick-off.
Both sides came out onto the pitch showing their solidarity for Ukraine in their fight against the Russian invasion, and ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ by the Hollies was played on the loudspeakers, in place of the usual pre-match air raid siren.
Attention soon returned to football and the Toffees effectively suffocated the champions while also having the first half’s best chances.
Jonjoe Kenny and Richarlison both probably should have done better with close-range efforts while Anthony Gordon’s 20-yard free kick just before the break couldn’t quite dip enough and hit the roof of the net.
After the interval, Pep Guardiola’s impressive outfit grew into the game and carved out several good opportunities to score, most notably forcing Jordan Pickford into an outstanding double save on 68 minutes.
The Blues’ valiant resistance was finally broken on 82 minutes when Bernardo Silva’s cross took a nick off Mason Holgate, catching out his defensive partner Keane and Foden took advantage to poke home an easy goal and finally break the deadlock at Goodison Park.
Moments later, the penalty controversy took place which seemed to knock the stuffing out of Frank Lampard’s men and City were able to successfully wind down the clock and come away with all three points.
In spite of another defeat, there were many positives to take away from the match as the Toffees paid the price for one small lapse in concentration in an otherwise fantastic shutout of one of Europe’s most dangerous teams.
Abdoulaye Doucoure returned to the side after a month out with injury as for the first time under Lampard, the Toffees started with a three-man midfield of Doucoure, Allan and Donny van de Beek who all impressed.
Gordon had another performance to take pride in, receiving yet another standing ovation as he was replaced by Demarai Gray on 77 minutes, as the youngster continued to cement his place in Everton’s strongest starting XI.
Other than Keane’s mistake, both he and Holgate were faultless at the back, clearing away anything the Citizens threw at them.
Meanwhile, Kenny put in another decent shift as a makeshift left-back and Richarlison did not stop running for the entire 90 minutes.
The decision to not award a penalty against Rodri was understandably the game’s biggest talking point and Lampard was visibly incensed in his post-match interview.
But it’s clear that Everton need to dust themselves down, take heart from their performance in spite of defeat and turn their attention onto upcoming fixtures as their bid for survival has just become that tiny bit more difficult.