Santiago Solari marks his 100th day in charge of Real Madrid with a 1-1 draw at Barcelona in the Copa del Rey, 101 days after his predecessor's reign ended with a 5-1 thrashing to the Catalans.

Manchester City's Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho celebrate during their Premier League match against Everton at Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain on February 6,2019.
Manchester City's Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho celebrate during their Premier League match against Everton at Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain on February 6,2019. (Reuters)

Manchester City climbed atop the Premier League standings — at least provisionally — for the first time since December by beating Everton 2-0 on Wednesday, heaping more pressure on main title rival Liverpool.

Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus scored for City during injury time in either half as the hosts went above Liverpool on goal difference — although Juergen Klopp's team has a game in hand. City's game at Everton, the only Premier League game played Wednesday, was rescheduled because of the English League Cup final on February 24, when Pep Guardiola's team faces Chelsea at Wembley.

City trailed Liverpool by seven points at the start of the year but beat Klopp's side on Jan. 3 and is now level with the Reds on 62 points, five points ahead of third-place Tottenham.

"The reality is we could have been, one month ago, 10 points behind when we played Liverpool," Guardiola said. "A few days ago we could have been seven points behind. Now we are top of the league. That is the best advice. The lesson is never give up. That is a lesson for all athletes. Try to win the games, because life can change immediately."

The visitors struggled to create chances at Goodison Park but Laporte exploited Everton's weakness on set pieces by heading in the opening goal on the stroke of halftime, with City's first shot on target. It was the 12th Premier League goal — and 17th in all competitions — conceded from a set piece by Everton, the worst record in the top flight.

Under-pressure manager Marco Silva opted for a defensive-minded lineup by leaving out leading scorers Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson — who have scored 19 of Everton's 36 league goals this season —which made the team difficult for City to break down in the first half. However, Ilkay Gundogan also had a shot deflected onto the crossbar and also had claims for a penalty waved away after a challenge by Andre Gomes.

Sergio Aguero's 58th-minute overhead kick could have sealed the win but it flashed wide. Everton brought on Sigurdsson and Richarlison in search for an equalizer but instead it was Jesus who doubled the advantage with a header with virtually the last touch of the game.

"It's a big frustration to concede after 47 minutes in first half, after 97 minutes in the second half," Silva said. "I don't want to talk more about set pieces. What I tell, I will tell to the players. I understand why you ask, but there is something inside the mind of our players. We have to work more."

City next hosts Chelsea on Sunday knowing that another win is probably necessary to stay ahead of Liverpool, which hosts Bournemouth on Saturday.

"Chelsea are an exceptional team who have had seven days to prepare. We have to prepare well. It really is a final for us this weekend. If we are able to take these points, it is a huge step forward," Guardiola said.

In the only other game in England on Wednesday, Glenny Murray scored twice in extra time to send Brighton into the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.

Madrid draw with Barca in first leg of Copa semifinal

Leaning forward in his winter coat, Lionel Messi fidgeted with an empty water bottle as he watched his Barcelona teammates trailing their fiercest rivals.

But minutes before he decided to test his tender right leg, the chants at Camp Nou for "Messi! Messi!" turned into cheers as a little-used teammate scored an equaliser against Real Madrid.

Malcom's second-half goal left their Copa del Rey semifinal poised 1-1 after the first leg, with Madrid going home with a slight away-goal edge for the return game later this month.

"The tie is wide open, there is no clear favorite," said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde. "Given the caliber of the two sides, there is still a lot to be said."

Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos after the first leg of the Copa Del Ray semi final at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain on February 6, 2019.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos after the first leg of the Copa Del Ray semi final at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain on February 6, 2019. (Reuters)

Having picked up a right leg injury after scoring twice in a 2-2 draw with Valencia in league on Saturday, Messi stayed on the bench until the 64th minute.

The Argentine then came on and didn't show any signs of an injury when he plucked the ball from Casemiro's boot, raced forward and was fouled by a scrum of Madrid's defenders near the area. He stayed on the turf to gather himself, before he smashed his free kick into the wall.

But other than an opening goal by Madrid forward Lucas Vazquez and Malcom's equaliser, this "clasico" was more of a clunker.

It was the first of three matches between Spain's most successful clubs in less than a month. The second leg of the semifinal in Madrid is on February 27, just before their Spanish league game at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on March 3.

"Today he felt fine, but we thought it would be better that he waited until the second half," Valverde said about Messi. "When he went out he had the chance to be decisive. Each time he touched the ball we could see the reaction he provoked in our rivals."

In October, Messi missed Barcelona's 5-1 rout of Madrid in the league, a stinging loss that sealed the fate of former coach Julen Lopetegui.

This time out, Madrid made sure to set a strong tone from the opening, when it maintained possession long enough to get in front.

The highlight duel was between Barcelona right back Nelson Semedo, who got the most of Madrid youngest Vinicius Junior with more than one skillfully dribble.

But the 18-year-old Vinicius did provide the key pass to the visitors' goal in the sixth minute when he spotted Karim Benzema at the far post defended by the under-sized Jordi Alba.

Benzema won the ball after Alba failed to reel it in, and the Madrid striker sent a low pass across the goalmouth where Vazquez slipped around Clement Lenglet to redirect it home.

"I am not surprised (by Vinicius) because I have known him since he arrived here," said Madrid coach Santiago Solari, who coached Vinicius Junior at Madrid's B-team before he started featuring him after he replaced Lopetegui. "(But) that an 18-year-old kid plays like this is surprising because it doesn't happen often."

As Madrid sat back to protect the advantage, Barcelona began to find holes in its defense.

Ivan Rakitic headed Malcom's free kick off the crossbar in the 32nd, and Suarez drew a one-handed save from goalkeeper Keylor Navas after Malcom bungled his way through three defenders before setting him up on the edge of the box.

Malcom pulled the hosts level in the 58th when he curled a left-foot strike from an angle into the net with Navas off his line.

Lenglet's long pass to Alba streaking into space forced Navas off his line to strip the ball, but it fell to Suarez who hit the post before Malcom gathered the rebo und in and finished it off.

It was the 21-year-old's third goal since joining Barcelona in the offseason from Bordeaux.

Source: AP