Sunday, 8 May 2011

Everton 2 - 1 Man City

Everton brought Manchester City's march towards the Champions League to an abrupt halt with a stirring comeback at Goodison Park.Yaya Toure's first-half goal appeared to set City on course for a win that would have virtually guaranteed a place in the top four as they exerted total domination over the Toffees.But the Merseysiders turned the game on its head in a fiercely-contested second half that concluded with manager David Moyes making it seven wins in his last eight Premier League games against City.Former City defender Sylvain Distin headed Everton's equaliser from Mikel Arteta's free-kick after 65 minutes with goalkeeper Joe Hart at fault - and as Roberto Mancini's men rocked under increasing pressure, Leon Osman rose spectacularly to beat City captain Vincent Kompany and head the winner seven minutes later.
Mancini lost his cool on several occasions in the closing stages, undoubtedly angry at his team's failure to cash in on their previous superiority which brought missed chances from Patrick Vieira and Edin Dzeko.Everton, however, deserve huge credit for the manner in which they recovered from a dispiriting first half to extend their strangehold on City in recent seasons.
Frustrations threatened to get out of hand after the final whistle, with Everton captain Phil Neville held back by referee Phil Dowd, who was also in heated discussion with City coach Brian Kidd as tempers boiled over.Goodison Park revelled in the triumph, reserving special attention for former defender Joleon Lescott, who left Everton for Eastlands in an acrimonious £24m move in August 2009.
City's meeting with Tottenham at Eastlands on Tuesday now assumes added significance while Everton once again demonstrated what dangerous opponents they can be - a fact no doubt noted by Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti, who brings his side to Goodison on the final day of the season.
Mancini left Mario Balotelli and Adam Johnson on the bench - but David Silva's wonderful elegance and creativity meant they were not missed in the first 45 minutes when eventual defeat must have been far from City's minds.Silva even drew applause from Everton's fans for a stunning piece of instant control, which he followed with a shot across goalkeeper Tim Howard that flashed inches wide.
All the visitors' good early work revolved around Silva, and Vieira was guilty of wasting another chance fashioned by the Spain international, shooting wildly over the top when it seemed certain he would score.
Toure was not about to miss out when Silva slipped past Distin and carved open the home side's defence once more after 28 minutes, finishing emphatically high past Howard after being played in by another perfect angled pass.Everton's only serious response was a header from midfield man Jack Rodwell that flew just wide and Moyes made an alteration the situation demanded at the interval, removing defender Tony Hibbert in favour of striker Jermaine Beckford.It was still City dictating affairs just after the break, though, with Howard plunging at the feet of Toure after he was sent clear by Silva, and Dzeko's header dropping inches off target with the Toffees keeper scrambling.The Merseysiders attempted to unsettle Mancini's men with a more physical approach, which went too far. Rodwell was shown a yellow card by referee Dowd for a reckless lunge on Nigel de Jong. But Kompany was also cautioned for becoming involved in the ensuing melee.
Dzeko fired narrowly wide for City as they attempted to put daylight between themselves and an increasingly confident Everton, who made a change by replacing Rodwell with Tim Cahill.The equaliser came instantly, although Cahill was not involved, Distin's header from Arteta's free-kick sneaking past Hart, who should have done so much better.And with Goodison Park rocking, the home side completed their recovery with a second seven minutes later - a goal of bravery and quality from Osman.
The little man was giving away height, weight and reach to Kompany but he soared magnificently above the defender to send a flying header over Hart.Osman suffered a blow to the head in the collision but was able to recover and was afforded a standing ovation from Everton's elated supporters.
City were stunned and almost fell further behind when Beckford stole in on Victor Anichebe's cross only to be denied by Hart's crucial block at the near post.
Everton were never in serious trouble after that - forcing City to wait to stamp their passport into next season's Champions League.

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