Phil Foden scored a brilliant hat-trick as Manchester City kept the pressure on in the Premier League title race with a 4-1 win over Champions League-chasing Aston Villa.

A day after defending his star striker against criticism from Roy Keane, Pep Guardiola left Erling Haaland on the bench alongside Kevin De Bruyne, clearing the stage for Foden to grab the spotlight with an outstanding performance and his second hat-trick of the campaign.

After Jhon Duran cancelled out Rodri’s opener, the 23-year-old put City back in front with a free-kick late in the first half before two excellent strikes settled it just after the hour mark, taking Foden to 21 City goals for the season.

Pep Guardiola’s side remain third, a point behind leaders Arsenal and level with Liverpool – who host Sheffield United on Thursday – after their first win over a top-five side this term.

But while little has changed in the table, this was a far more fluid performance from the champions days after Arsenal ended their run of 57 consecutive home games with a goal.

The decision to leave out De Bruyne and Haaland was made with next week’s Champions League trip to Real Madrid looming, but neither have been at their best since coming back from injury in recent weeks.

Jack Grealish and Jeremy Doku came in to play on the wings and Foden shifted inside, from where he would orchestrate City’s win.

Villa, already without the injured Ollie Watkins, had to replace goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez due to illness just before kick-off and stand-in Robin Olsen was soon picking the ball out of his net.

Foden fed Doku on the right and the Belgian cut it back for Rodri to sweep home his eighth goal of the season after 11 minutes.

City’s lead lasted only nine minutes before Villa drew level with an excellent counter-attack. Julian Alvarez lost the ball on the edge of the Villa box and the visitors swept forward before Duran played a quick one-two with Morgan Rogers and fired across Stefan Ortega’s goal into the far corner.

After Jack Grealish – booed constantly by his old fans in the Villa end – was booked for dissent when a free-kick went in Douglas Luiz’s favour, Olsen made a fine save with his right boot to deny Alvarez.

Luiz was living dangerously late in the first half. Already booked for bringing down Grealish on the edge of the area, he then fouled Foden in an almost identical spot in first-half stoppage time.

Darren England kept his cards in his pocket but Villa were punished anyway as Foden found a gap in the wall left by Nicolo Zaniolo to beat Olsen.

There was still time for Alvarez to go close twice before half-time, with Olsen tipping a close-range header over the crossbar, and the goalkeeper was busy again at the start of the second half, denying Bernardo Silva after Foden’s neat pass left him one-on-one.

Villa threatened on the break as Luiz drove forward and hit a shot that was tipped over by Ortega, who then denied Clement Lenglet from the resulting corner.

But Foden would soon settle the match. In the 62nd minute Rodri rode Moussa Diaby’s challenge and rolled the ball inside for Foden to beat Olsen with a first-time shot into the bottom right corner.

Lewis lashed a shot narrowly wide but the killer fourth goal arrived in the 69th minute. The chance appeared to have gone when Foden lost the ball on the edge of the Villa area, but Calum Chambers scuffed his clearance straight back to Foden, and he lashed a shot into the top right corner.

Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool cannot pin all of their hopes on Virgil van Dijk shutting down Erling Haaland when the title rivals Manchester City visit Anfield.

There are no shortage of subplots when the Premier League pacesetters square off on Merseyside on Sunday, not least the possibility of Klopp’s final head-to-head battle against Pep Guardiola.

Away from the managers’ dugouts it could be tempting to view the game as an arm wrestle between the irrepressible Haaland – who has 29 goals this season and seven in his last three outings – and the commanding Van Dijk.

But when it comes to City, Klopp believes there is too much quality and too many alternate options to rely on an old-fashioned man-marking exercise.

“Football doesn’t work like that any more. If Haaland is not scoring that is good but they have other options to do that,” he said.

“If Virgil van Dijk would be able to nullify Haaland then (Phil) Foden fires the ball in from 30 yards into the far corner, or Kevin De Bruyne does exactly the same, or Rodri is arriving, or Bernardo Silva is doing it.

“I don’t think for a second like that, that they are playing against each other. Yes, there are moments it definitely will happen, 100 per cent, and hopefully we will be at the better end that, but this football game is about so many aspects.

“When you watch the movement of Erling Haaland he is incredibly smart putting himself in positions. He’s smart enough not to all of the time be around the one he might consider the best one.”

Liverpool had planned to have Ibrahima Konate alongside Van Dijk to help manage the free-scoring Norwegian, but saw their plans dented when the former was injured in Thursday’s Europa League thrashing of Sparta Prague.

While awaiting the result of scans Klopp did not appear optimistic about Konate’s chances, but made it clear he would have no qualms throwing rookie Jarrell Quansah into the biggest game of his career if required.

A year ago the 21-year-old was lining up against Forest Green during a loan spell at Bristol Rovers but circumstances have allowed him to progress further and faster than anyone expected. Injuries across the backline thrust him up the pecking order and his response has earned the manager’s trust.

“Massive, massive development. He just stepped up,” said Klopp.

“He came back (from Rovers) and it wasn’t that everybody in the club was saying, ‘yeah, he will be the next one’. We knew he is a real talent, we knew he has massive strength, especially on the ball, stuff like this. But how will he deal with the next-quality Premier League strikers? How is that physicality?

“We thought the situation in the squad is right to do so. If you want (he was) centre-half number five in that moment. But he showed immediately that he wants to be in the team in each session and it’s a joy, a pure joy, to have him.”

Holders Manchester City eased into the Champions League quarter-finals for a seventh successive season with a routine 3-1 win over FC Copenhagen.

Early Manuel Akanji and Julian Alvarez goals put City on their way and the prolific Erling Haaland netted his 29th of the season as Pep Guardiola’s side completed a 6-2 aggregate success at the Etihad Stadium.

Copenhagen showed some spirit and pulled one back through former Southampton player Mohamed Elyounoussi but there was never any doubt City would be going through to the last eight.

It was a game played largely at a slow tempo as City, bidding to win unprecedented back-to-back trebles, conserved energy for bigger challenges ahead.

Guardiola made seven changes from the side that beat Manchester United in Sunday’s derby with match-winner Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Kyle Walker, John Stones and Bernardo Silva among those on the bench.

That suggested Guardiola already had half an eye on this weekend’s crunch Premier League trip to Liverpool and his selection was vindicated inside five minutes as Akanji volleyed them ahead.

The defender went forward for a corner and was almost nonchalant in the way he swung out his boot to meet Alvarez’s cross with a sweet strike.

Alvarez doubled the lead four minutes later after a calamitous error by goalkeeper Kamil Grabara, who had been one of the Danes’ stand-out players in the first leg.

Alvarez first picked out Rodri, who thumped a header against the bar. The ball was half-cleared and the Argentinian picked up possession again but this time curled in a shot.

Grabara should have claimed but the ball slipped through his fingers and into the net.

After completely dominating the meeting between the sides in Denmark last month without putting the matter beyond doubt, City appeared to have finished the job in quick fashion.

Yet for all their dominance and control of possession, the hosts were caught out by a rare Copenhagen break on the half-hour.

Defence was turned into attack as Elyounoussi broke down the left, found Orri Oskarsson inside the box and then took his backheel return to slot a fine goal beyond Ederson.

That at least gave Copenhagen’s vociferous following something to savour but City were hardly unsettled.

Haaland restored a two-goal advantage on the night on the stroke of half-time when he controlled a lofted Rodri pass, cut inside and then buried a low shot inside the near post.

City eased off in the second half and cruised towards the final whistle.

To their credit, Copenhagen, as manager Jacob Neestrup had promised, refused to throw in the towel and, despite seeing little of the ball, did manage to piece together some attacks.

Substitute Magnus Mattsson even tested Ederson with a sharp shot on the turn and Elyounoussi blasted over.

City almost added another in stoppage time when Rico Lewis hit the bar.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has urged Jack Grealish to seize an opportunity to finish the season strongly.

The England midfielder has so far this term been unable to reproduce the influential form he played in last year’s treble success.

The 28-year-old’s campaign has twice been interrupted by injury and there was also an unsettling off-field incident when his house was burgled while members of his family and girlfriend were in the property.

His latest setback came when he suffered a groin injury during City’s Champions League game at FC Copenhagen earlier this month but, after a speedy recovery, he was an unused substitute at Bournemouth on Saturday.

He could come back into the reckoning for Tuesday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at Luton and Guardiola hopes he can make the most of it.

Guardiola said: “He started a bit late but (in) the last month Jack is back in terms of many things.

“That’s why he played an important game in the Champions League in Copenhagen. Unfortunately there was a setback after 10-15 minutes but he’s recovered quick and he is back.

“Hopefully (he can have) the impact he had last season. It depends on him.

“I try to be fair with my decisions. If he played a lot of minutes last season and this season a little bit less in the beginning, he is the same player. It’s the same manager, the same way we want to play. Nothing has changed.

“It is just how how we perform, that is the difference. We need him. I’ve said from day one we need him. He has a special quality for our team. Hopefully he can do a good last three months.”

With other players in good form, however, Guardiola admits Grealish will have to hit the ground running when the chance arises.

Grealish must compete with the likes of Phil Foden, Jeremy Doku, Julian Alvarez and Bernardo Silva, all of whom have been in better form this season, for a place.

Guardiola said: “I cannot give three or four games in a row in order to get the rhythm.

“They have to take a rhythm to play 20 minutes, 90 minutes, in the high level. You cannot wait.

“I’m going to give you three or four (games) for you be fit and the other 10 players don’t play?

“They don’t deserve the same? Of course they deserve it but that’s not how it works.

“You have to see in the training session, every moment all details.

“He’s the same lovely person, lovely guy, same qualities, skills. He has even more years to improve.

“So the players don’t have to convince me. They have to convince themselves that they deserve to play.”

Phil Foden feels he is in the form of his life as he eyes a second successive treble with Manchester City.

The England midfielder stepped up in the injury-enforced absence of Kevin De Bruyne to thrive in a central role in numerous games in the first half of the season.

De Bruyne’s return to action over the past month has seen Foden’s position vary since but his performance levels have rarely dipped.

Playing alongside De Bruyne, the 23-year-old again excelled in Tuesday’s Champions League victory at FC Copenhagen, capping a fine display with an eighth goal in 10 outings.

“I think it’s the most run of games that I’ve played in a City shirt consistently,” said Foden. “I’m in good form, scoring consistently and helping the team as much as I can and I’m delighted with that.

“I want to keep doing that, that’s the goal every game. I’d say I’m playing my best football in a City shirt.”

Foden has been touted for big things since he was in City’s junior ranks but it is now over six years since he made his senior debut.

When prolific striker Erling Haaland joined De Bruyne on the sidelines in December, Foden felt it was time he took responsibility.

“I think I had to,” said Foden, who scored a hat-trick in last week’s Premier League win at Brentford. “They are two massive players for us, so key last year for us winning the treble. It was time for me to step up.”

City’s 3-1 win in Copenhagen in the first leg of their last-16 tie was their 11th in succession in all competitions.

They are strongly fancied to defend all three of the major trophies they won last season and Foden has no doubt the team have the hunger to do so.

He said: “We’re showing that we’re still determined and playing the same football as last year and still wanting to win all the games. Hopefully that continues and we don’t drop our level or form.

“We’re focused. We stick by each other and it’s a pleasure to be a part of this team. I look around the dressing room and I still see the determination and hunger.”

Foden has made no secret of his preference to play in a central position, something which became a matter of national debate earlier this season when England manager Gareth Southgate selected him in a wide role.

Foden said: “I’ve said previously that I prefer to play in the middle but I’ll do a job wherever the manager puts me. Tuesday I was out wide, and I got a goal and an assist. I’m delighted.”

Manchester City resumed their Champions League defence with a comfortable 3-1 win at FC Copenhagen on Tuesday.

Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva netted either side of an unexpected Magnus Mattson equaliser as City dominated a last-16 first leg they could have won far more convincingly.

Pep Guardiola’s side dominated in every aspect at the Danish capital’s famously atmospheric Parken Stadium and Phil Foden completed a deserved success late on.

With close to 80 per cent possession, the holders were hardly troubled and will be confident of wrapping up a place in the quarter-finals when the sides meet again in Manchester in three weeks.

The only real downside for City was the loss of Jack Grealish through injury in the first half.

Despite having almost complete control, one thing City could not do was silence the home fans.

As anticipated, Copenhagen’s raucous following produced an intimidating atmosphere and greeted every City attack with loud whistles and even a siren.

Yet it appeared to have no effect on City, who immediately imposed themselves and should have taken the lead when De Bruyne fluffed a header from a Nathan Ake cross.

Ruben Dias also forced a save from Kamil Grabara and Ake fired the rebound over, although a raised flag suggested neither might have counted.

Copenhagen, their rustiness amid Denmark’s long winter break evident, were struggling to live with City and it came as no surprise when De Bruyne hit his 11th-minute opener.

The Belgian, who has quickly eased back into gear after a long injury lay-off, timed his run onto a Foden pass superbly and finished clinically with a low shot.

City looked hungry for more and Erling Haaland was inches away from meeting a De Bruyne cross before a Silva ball was deflected onto the woodwork by Denis Vavro.

City suffered a blow when Grealish, making his first start in six games, was forced off after 21 minutes soon after a challenge from Diogo Goncalves but his replacement Jeremy Doku added more energy to City’s attack.

Within moments of coming on Doku set up Haaland for what would have been a spectacular goal with a volleyed cross but the Norwegian’s overhead kick flew over.

City looked capable of running up a huge score but remarkably found themselves level when Ederson gifted the hosts an equaliser on 34 minutes.

The goalkeeper passed straight to Mohamed Elyounoussi and, although the former Southampton forward’s shot was blocked, debutant Mattson followed up with a fine finish.

Mattson, a recent signing from NEC Nijmegen, almost added another soon after but blazed over.

The home fans were animated but their excitement was not to last.

Silva restored normal order before the break with a fine flicked finish after De Bruyne got the better of Mattson to pick out the Portuguese.

De Bruyne almost added to the lead early in the second half when he tested Grabara before Haaland headed tamely at the keeper and Foden had an effort deflected wide.

Grabara also pushed away a long-range Doku strike and Haaland was twice denied by the keeper in stoppage time before Foden wrapped up the win after exchanging passes with De Bruyne.

Phil Foden believes the Premier League title race will go to the wire this season.

The England midfielder scored a hat-trick in Manchester City’s 3-1 win at Brentford on Monday night.

It was a potentially pivotal victory which lifted City above Arsenal into second place, two points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.

“It’s going to be tight one. Liverpool and Arsenal are two top teams doing really well,” said Foden.

“They are going to push us until the end so we have to try and not drop points and try to win all of our games really.”

City fell behind against the run of play when Neal Maupay fired Brentford into the lead.

But Foden finally beat inspired Bees goalkeeper Mark Flekken to haul his side level before the interval.

The 23-year-old headed them in front early in the second half from Kevin De Bruyne’s cross, and then completed a stylish treble to ensure City’s title destiny is firmly in their own hands.

The treble winners also trailed in away matches against Everton and Newcastle recently, but Foden says they are beginning to show their mettle by coming back to win each time.

“Resilience. We keep proving it season after season,” he told the club website.

“We keep surprising everyone by keeping our standards high and it’s down to the manager and this fantastic group of players.

“It’s the togetherness, when things aren’t going right, to bounce back.”

Nerves are starting to jangle at Brentford, who have lost seven of their last eight matches and lie just three points above the relegation zone.

The fixture list does not offer much respite with City – again – Liverpool and Arsenal all on the schedule in the next few weeks.

But boss Thomas Frank is looking no further ahead than Saturday’s trip to Wolves.

“I’m always looking just one game ahead; that’s where our maximum focus is,” he said.

“It’s the same top focus on the next game. Every game we will have a very good chance to win it and that will be the same on Saturday.”

Pep Guardiola hailed Kevin De Bruyne as exceptional and unique after his impressive return to action in Manchester City’s FA Cup stroll against Huddersfield.

The Belgian playmaker appeared as a 57th-minute substitute and set up a goal as the holders breezed past the Championship strugglers 5-0 in a one-sided third-round tie at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

It was De Bruyne’s first outing in five months after a long lay-off following hamstring surgery and his comeback is timely as City step up the intensity for the second half of the campaign.

City manager Guardiola said: “He played really good minutes. We thought it was better to play the second half than from the beginning when the game was tighter.

“It was so difficult to find space. They defended so so deep and were really well organised, compact.

“It was really good and now, as I said before, he needs to accumulate training sessions and more training sessions, more than games. Still he is not ready for 90 minutes.

“Kevin helps to win games and there are few (like him) in the world. We can play good football-wise but Kevin, (Erling) Haaland, Phil (Foden), Julian (Alvarez) – these guys win games.

“That’s why it’s so important to have him back. Kevin is exceptional, he is unique.

“He was a long time out with surgery. His first minutes, the quality of the assist for the Jeremy (Doku) goal – it’s really good to have him back.”

De Bruyne put the seal on City’s performance by teeing up City’s fifth goal for Doku, who was also making his return from injury.

Foden had already struck twice with Alvarez also on target and City benefiting from a Ben Jackson own goal.

Haaland was again absent through injury but, with a lighter schedule this month, Guardiola is hoping to get all his top names back as treble winners City again chase glory on three fronts.

He said: “What I want is to arrive in the second part of the season with everyone fit. I want Erling back, Kevin back, Jeremy and John (Stones). When they are back we have a team that can compete in different competitions until the end.”

Huddersfield manager Darren Moore hopes his side will learn from a difficult experience.

Moore said: “It was always going to be a tough game. We tried to come here and nullify the areas where Man City are excellent in and thought we did that to start off with.

“You have to try and start on a positive note and disrupt their passing rhythm, but when the first goal goes in and then there is quickfire second one, the game runs away from you a bit.

“The boys were just talking about the quality they were coming up against. Sometimes in moments of defeat it about the learning perspective and that is what we have taken from today.”

Kevin De Bruyne made an eye-catching return and Phil Foden struck twice as holders Manchester City thrashed Huddersfield 5-0 in the FA Cup third round.

Julian Alvarez and Jeremy Doku were also on target as City – further aided by an own goal – swept aside their Championship opponents in a one-sided third-round tie at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The impact of the in-form Foden was again impressive but De Bruyne’s comeback, after five months out, was arguably of greater significance.

The Belgian was given just over half an hour at the end of the game and he marked the occasion by teeing up a goal for fellow returnee Doku.

His presence brought some of the biggest cheers of the afternoon from the home fans, whose noise was drowned out by that of the 6,000-strong visiting support early on.

Yet Huddersfield, not surprisingly given their struggles in the second tier this season, could not match the intensity of their fans as City, without hitting top gear, comfortably outplayed them.

The visitors resisted well for the opening half an hour, limiting Alvarez to a long-range shot which was comfortably saved by Lee Nicholls while Oscar Bobb had an effort unwittingly blocked by team-mate Rico Lewis.

The visitors showed some spirit by launching a handful of counter-attacks but the final ball was generally lacking.

Sorba Thomas did get through on goal on one occasion but he failed to beat Stefan Ortega and the offside flag indicated it would not have counted anyway.

City suffered a blow when Manuel Akanji limped off after a heavy challenge from Alex Matos, who was booked, but they soon began to step up the pressure.

Huddersfield were pegged back as Sergio Gomez had a low ball turned behind and a Foden shot was deflected to safety.

The opener came on 33 minutes as Mateo Kovacic slipped in Alvarez and his firm pass was well taken and rifled in by Foden at close range.

The second followed just four minutes later as Matheus Nunes linked with Foden and then found Lewis, who squared for Alvarez to stretch and poke home.

Bobb went close early in the second half as he cut inside but dragged his shot wide.

De Bruyne was introduced on 57 minutes in a double change that also saw Doku make his return from injury.

City claimed their third goal moments later as Nunes controlled a high ball and played wide to Bobb, whose attempted cross to De Bruyne at the far post flicked off Ben Jackson and looped into the net.

Huddersfield had a brief flurry as Thomas forced Ortega to save with his feet when through one on one but City’s fourth was not long in coming.

Again Foden did the damage, calmly stroking the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area from a well-worked short-corner routine.

De Bruyne created the fifth as he surged upfield, played a one-two with Bobb and then pulled the ball back for Doku to thump in on the half-volley.

Pep Guardiola has raised the tantalising prospect of unleashing Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne together in the centre of Manchester City’s attack.

Foden has hit a rich vein of form in recent weeks playing in the central attacking midfield role that De Bruyne had previously made his own.

That has raised the question of how the pair will be deployed once the inspirational De Bruyne returns from the hamstring injury that has sidelined him since August.

City manager Guardiola said: “They are different players but it’s true that in the final third, in the decisive moments, both are incredible. The impact in goals, in passes is a lot.

“Phil is playing unbelievably lately in that position, in the threats, and he feels comfortable.

“In certain games, of course we can play both together in that position, in the pocket, in the middle, close to the box.

“In certain other games for the stability, maybe not. So we have to see day by day.”

The issue may not need to be resolved just yet with Guardiola not intending to rush De Bruyne back into action.

The Belgian was an unused substitute for last week’s Premier League victory over Sheffield United and any return to action is likely to be incremental.

“Right now I don’t ask to Kevin to play his best level,” said Guardiola, whose side host Sky Bet Championship club Huddersfield in the FA Cup third round on Sunday,

“We cannot force a player with a long injury in this kind of situation. From my experience as a football player, it happened quite similar. I was one year with hamstring problems. When you come back you need time.

“It’s not, ‘OK play, it’s the best Kevin’. You have to be relaxed, enjoy the minutes he’s going to play, try to win the games.

“Kevin maybe in 20 minutes can help us more right now than 90 minutes. After that his body will dictate how many minutes more he can get.”

City are the holders of the FA Cup and Guardiola has no intention of giving up the trophy lightly, even as they pursue further glory in the Premier League and Champions League.

Guardiola, twice a winner of the cup, has a strong affinity with the competition and does not want to see it marginalised as other events grow in importance.

He said: “Since day one here I’ve been asked about but it is not going to happen, reduced competition. Accept it.

“It is really, really important. It’s not friendly games here. We train every day for Huddersfield. We prepare incredibly well.

“The FA Cup is the FA Cup. You will not find one person in this club, in the locker room, who doesn’t love it.”

Aston Villa scored a late penalty to beat strugglers Burnley 3-2 and move second in the Premier League.

Villa – who lost 3-2 at Manchester United on Boxing Day after leading 2-0 – went ahead in the 28th minute through Leon Bailey.

The Clarets were back on level terms just three minutes later when Zeki Amdouni fired home from close range following a free-kick.

Burnley had the ball in the net again, but Lyle Foster’s effort was ruled out for offside before Moussa Diaby then added a second for Villa in the 42nd minute.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 56th minute when midfielder Sander Berge was given a second caution for tugging back Douglas Luiz.

Foster, though, hauled Burnley level with 20 minutes left – this time his goal allowed to stand following a VAR review.

Just when it looked like Vincent Kompany’s men would hold out for a welcome point, Aaron Ramsey fouled Jhon Duran to concede an 89th-minute penalty. Luiz sent his spot-kick on to the underside of the crossbar and into the roof of the net to secure another home win for Villa.

Manchester City beat Sheffield United 2-0 at the Ethiad Stadium to move third, above Arsenal on goal difference.

Rodri gave City the lead in the 14th minute with a low finish into the bottom corner after good hold-up play by Phil Foden.

Midfielder Jack Grealish – whose Cheshire home had been burgled while he was away playing at Everton on Wednesday night – was taken off early in the second half and replaced by Oscar Bobb.

Julian Alvarez doubled City’s lead just after the hour from close range after Bobb had played in Foden.

Earlier, Chelsea survived a spirited late fightback by Luton to win 3-2 at Kenilworth Road.

Mauricio Pochettino’s team had looked to be cruising to a first away victory since early November following a brace from Cole Palmer – his second goal showing fine close control – either side of Noni Madueke’s strike just before half-time.

Luton, though, set up a tense final 10 minutes after Ross Barkley scored against his former club before Elijah Adebayo pulled another back late on, but the Blues held out.

Michael Olise scored twice as Crystal Palace returned to winning ways after coming from behind to beat Brentford 3-1 at Selhurst Park.

Keane Lewis-Potter fired the Bees into an early lead after just two minutes, the goal given following a lengthy VAR check for a possible offside.

Palace were soon back on level terms in the 14th minute when Olise volleyed in at the back post before Eberechi Eze completed the turnaround shortly before half-time.

Olise fired in a well-taken second from the edge of the penalty area in the 58th minute as Palace ended an eight-match winless run.

Wolves maintained their good form with a 3-0 win over relegation-battlers Everton at Molineux.

Captain Max Kilman put Wolves in front in the 25th minute following a scramble in the penalty area, which was only his second goal for the club. The players celebrated by holding up a shirt in support of Mario Lemina following the death of his father.

Wolves doubled their lead early in the second half through a close-range finish from Matheus Cunha and Craig Dawson added a third on the hour.

Hwang Hee-chan and Pedro Neto both saw goals disallowed for offside as Gary O’Neil’s well-drilled went on to close out a third straight win.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes their 3-1 victory in a “massive” game at Everton will serve as a reminder to their rivals not to write them off.

City arrived back from Saudi Arabia as Club World Cup winners looking to correct a record which had seen them win just once in six Premier League matches and drop off the pace in the title race.

But while they were away, results went in their favour which meant winning their two matches in hand on Liverpool would reduce the deficit at the top to just two points, and the first of those was achieved after they recovered from former winger Jack Harrison’s opener with goals from Phil Foden, Julian Alvarez – from the penalty spot – and Bernardo Silva.

“Really, really important. It was a massive game for us, coming from Saudi Arabia,” said Guardiola.

“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.

“We want to be there. I know we are not top of the league, (but) a lot of things are going to happen.

“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.”

Guardiola said the Club World Cup was not only a distraction, but also helped refocus the players’ minds.

“I remember on the plane coming back from Saudi Arabia I listened to the players when they didn’t know I was listening and they started to talk about Everton,” he added.

“I said ‘wow, this is my team’. I have the feeling they still want to try.

“We play many games this season and people say we are not the same. We have lost one of the last 13 (not including the Club World Cup). We don’t talk enough about how good we are.”

The only downside to the game was an ankle problem for John Stones, who left the stadium wearing a protective boot, on only his fifth Premier League start of a season already significantly affected by injury.

“Hopefully the damage isn’t big and he can come back soon,” said the City boss, who is also hopeful Erling Haaland and midfielder Kevin De Bruyne will be available soon.

Haaland has missed six matches with a foot problem while De Bruyne has not played since August because of a hamstring injury.

“He (Haaland) is training alone and getting better, it’s a question of when the pain will disappear,” he said.

“He’s not a skinny guy like Phil Foden, he’s huge and tall so it is more difficult sometimes.

“Kevin is close, but he had fatigue yesterday and we have to be careful. If you don’t handle the timings good you can get injured again.

“I’d love for him to play the next game or Huddersfield (in the FA Cup), but what is important is keeping him fit for a long time, not for one game or another.”

Everton manager Sean Dyche was frustrated by the award of the penalty for handball against Amadou Onana that allowed City to take the lead through Alvarez, but did not use it as an excuse.

“I don’t have a clue. No-one does. Is that deliberate? Of course not. I don’t know where you are supposed to put your hands,” he said.

“The lawmakers are making all these mad rules. I don’t know why they don’t leave the game alone. All the managers are frustrated with it. Maybe the referees are. The players definitely are.

“If he deliberately did that he must be some keeper. His reactions were cat-like. I’ve never seen anything like it.

“But they are still a top side. We know they make chances and you have to try to stop those, which we didn’t do.”

Manchester City survived a testing encounter at Goodison Park as they came from behind to beat Everton 3-1 and climb back into the top four.

The newly-crowned Club World Cup winners recovered from going behind to former winger Jack Harrison’s first-half goal to score twice after the break through a beauty from Phil Foden and a Julian Alvarez penalty.

Late on, Bernardo Silva curled home into an empty net after the otherwise excellent Jordan Pickford had his kick charged down to leave Everton a point above the relegation zone.

It was only City’s second win in seven league matches, but was enough to bring second-placed Arsenal within their sights and Liverpool not much further away.

However, the loss of John Stones, making only his fifth Premier League start this season due to injury, and an eighth successive Premier League game without a clean sheet were less welcome.

With Liverpool and Arsenal drawing just before Christmas, City returned victorious from Saudi Arabia knowing winning their two games in hand would leave them just a couple of points behind Jurgen Klopp’s side at the summit.

Had it not been for some wayward shooting and, more significantly, Jordan Pickford, they would probably have been coasting towards the first of those wins before half-time.

The England number one’s most important intervention came in the 14th minute when he saved Matheus Nunes’ shot and then stuck out a foot to narrowly divert wide Alvarez’s rebound. He also later denied Jack Grealish.

And without Erling Haaland for a sixth successive game – the Norway international’s foot injury is also expected to keep him out of the weekend’s visit of Sheffield United – Pep Guardiola’s side started to look a bit toothless.

That has been a longer-term problem for Everton but scoring from your first shot on target always helps and when Rodri was pressured into an uncharacteristic loss of possession on the edge of his own area by Beto the home side pounced.

Dwight McNeil laid on his third assist in five games as Harrison sidefooted home from close range, with the former City winger almost scoring a spectacular second with Ederson at full stretch to tip over his swerving outside-of-the-left-foot effort.

City were more than happy to leave Beto, making his first start in six games but with two goals in his last five appearances, one-on-one at the back and that almost backfired when Pickford picked him out only for the striker’s clumsiness allowing Stones to recover and clear, injuring himself in the process.

Guardiola was furious with the assistant referee for not flagging for offside and his mood was not helped by the defender’s enforced departure just before half-time.

City needed just 19 minutes after the break to turn things around with Foden given too much space on the edge of the area from a corner to beat Pickford down by his left-hand post.

Silva extended the goalkeeper with a free-kick before Alvarez put them ahead when Nathan Ake’s shot hit Amadou Onana’s arm as he slid in to block.

Referee John Brooks awarded a corner before changing his mind and pointing to the spot, with Alvarez’s blast down the middle proving too powerful as it went underneath the diving Pickford’s legs.

When substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin failed to turn home Harrison’s low cross from six yards, defeat was confirmed with Silva’s 20-yard effort into an unguarded net after collecting Alvarez’s block on the goalkeeper.

Manchester City’s Jack Grealish has denied being disrespectful towards Fluminense during Friday’s Club World Cup final victory.

Tempers briefly flared after the final whistle as City captain Kyle Walker and Fluminense defender Felipe Melo grappled in a heated argument.

Melo subsequently blamed Grealish for stoking tensions, claiming the City winger had shouted ‘ole’.

Grealish insisted that was not true, writing on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter: “Not once did I say ole.”

The situation quickly calmed down before City lifted their fifth trophy of the year following a comprehensive 4-0 win over the Brazilian side in Saudi Arabia.

Julian Alvarez scored twice, with Phil Foden also netting in the second half after a Nino own goal had put City two up.

Pep Guardiola spoke of his pride after Manchester City thrashed Fluminense 4-0 to win the Club World Cup for the first time on Friday.

It was the club’s fifth trophy of a memorable 2023 after their previous successes in the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and European Super Cup.

Julian Alvarez began the rout after just 40 seconds, teed up another for Phil Foden and then wrapped up a one-sided victory in the closing minutes. City also benefited from an own goal as they overran their Brazilian opponents.

City manager Guardiola, who had previously won the competition three times, told the club’s website: “I am so proud of this club. What we have done is an outstanding achievement.

“To win this trophy is to be the best team in the world and our players, our coaches, our backroom staff, all of them work hard every single day to bring us this success.

“As a manager what I am most proud of (is) that we are always there. No matter how much we win, no matter what trophies we lift, we are there again to fight for the next one.

“To win the treble was truly special but to win two more trophies and now hold these five major titles shows the unique mentality of this team, of the club and its fans.

“It is something no other English team has ever achieved and we will always remember this incredible time we spent together.”

Foden, whose cross also forced the own goal, similarly hailed a momentous night in the club’s history.

The England midfielder said on TNT Sports: “We are not used to playing in this heat so it was difficult but we are delighted with the outcome. We’re over the ‘world’.

“This one is so important for the club. It’s the first time we’ve won it. We’re delighted and it’s massive for the club.”

Foden felt Fluminense, the Copa Libertadores winners, gave City a tough night.

“It was an unbelievable match,” he said. “Fair play to them, the way they play. I love the way they play – short passes.

“They are a great side and they didn’t make it easy but I thought the lads not only showed quality but heart and determination.”

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