Riyad Mahrez is determined not to slow up after flying into Manchester City’s new season on the back of an outstanding summer.
The Algeria forward was the champions’ outstanding player as they claimed a hard-fought 3-1 win at Everton in the Premier League on Saturday.
Mahrez’s performance, which included the scoring of a crucial free-kick in a tight second half, continued his fine run of form since helping his country to success in the Africa Cup of Nations in July.
When that tournament ended, City were already one game into their pre-season tour of Asia, meaning the 28-year-old had little respite from competitive action before the Premier League resumed.
But after a first season at the Etihad Stadium in which he did not command a regular starting spot, he feels that was for the best.
“I didn’t have much holidays but that is what I wanted, because I wanted to be ready straightaway,” he said. “I am happy but I have to keep going.”
Mahrez troubled Everton throughout at Goodison Park and set up a glorious early chance for Ilkay Gundogan which the German remarkably hit against the bar.
City did take the lead through Gabriel Jesus but were pegged back by Dominic Calvert-Lewin – who got the final touch to a goalbound Seamus Coleman shot – and it took late strikes from Mahrez and Raheem Sterling to secure victory.
Mahrez said: “I don’t think it was a frustrating game – I think it was a good game from us. We could have killed the game in the first half, first 20 (minutes) – we had a lot of chances – but didn’t, compared to the game against Watford where we had five chances and we scored five goals.
“But I guess we have to go through this type of game. I think we made a good game and we are happy to have won.”
While City’s win ensured they remain five points behind Liverpool, Everton are still in the bottom half after what was their fourth defeat in their last five games.
But after a performance much improved from last week’s loss to Sheffield United, Calvert-Lewin felt there were plenty of good sign.
The 22-year-old said: “It is extremely difficult (to take). We did well to get back into the game and were still in it until they scored again. At 2-1 we still had a chance but then they put the game to bed.
“We worked really hard and were unfortunate not to come out with the result.
“It was very important to play well – and I thought we did for large parts of the game – to take confidence from it given we didn’t get the result.
“We know what we are capable of and it is about ironing out the dips in form we have.”
As for his goal, heading in Coleman’s effort just before the line, he said: “I thought he was going to cross it. I just got myself in position to score, as any striker would.”
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