Phil Foden struck eight minutes before time as Manchester City escaped with a controversial 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Everton to open a six-point lead over the Premier League.
City’s first league defeat since October last weekend against Tottenham has reawakened the title race and they seemed poised to lose points again until Foden dropped in to penalize a mistake by Michael Keane.
Everton had subsequently given away strong claims for a penalty after a VAR review for a handball by Rodri.
Frank Lampard’s men are now just one point above the relegation zone, but there was hope for the Toffees in a battle performance that pushed the champions to their limits.
Before kick-off, both sets of players showed their solidarity with Ukraine as the Eastern European country is besieged by a Russian invasion.
Ukrainian internationals Oleksandr Zinchenko and Vitaliy Mykolenko were named on the bench.
City left-back Zinchenko was moved to tears as his teammates wore tracksuits with the Ukrainian flag and “no war” as Everton players took to the field with Ukrainian flags draped around their shoulders.
Once the action got underway it was hard to tell which side it was going for the fourth league title in five years and the team vying for survival.
Everton’s energy forced City on the back foot, but without the injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the hosts couldn’t take advantage.
Jonjoe Kenny cut their best opening in the side net before Richarlison fired too close to Brazilian international teammate Ederson.
City rode out of the storm of the first half and dominated the second without creating many big chances.
Jordan Pickford made double saves to first reject Foden and Joao Cancelo and then strong attempts from Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva.
However, their defensive resistance was ended by a basic foul as Keane failed to make contact with Silva’s low cross and Foden sprang up to tap in from out of nowhere.
The drama wasn’t over when the ball hit Rodri on the arm as he tried to control a bouncing ball in his own penalty area.
But after a lengthy VAR review, no penalty was awarded and City kept a massive three points in the title race.