Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Everton 1 Man City 0

The transfer window is finally shut but Everton have thrown the title race wide open with a victory overManchester City secured by former United midfielder Darron Gibson’s first goal for the club.

Gibson was an early January mover after finding his first team opportunities limited at Manchester United, but the midfielder’s popularity at Old Trafford has never been higher after his second-half strike condemned City to only their third league defeat of the season.

Roberto Mancini will have to make do with what he has got for the rest of the season, but his side are starting to look vulnerable on the road against hardworking, organised sides like Everton.

This was a reminder of David Moyes’ excellence as a manager.

Everton refused to give City a second’s peace, running themselves into the ground and defending brilliantly, even with a makeshift back four.

No signings on transfer deadline day in City’s quietest transfer window since the Abu Dhabi takeover gave them the financial muscle to wrestle

Europe’s heavyweights, but Roberto Mancini was still able to strengthen his starting line up with the return of Vincent Kompany from a four-game suspension.

City have preserved their position at the top of the table during his absence, but three defeats in five games hinted at the gaping hole their

Belgian captain left behind. For all the millions they could have spent in this window, a familiar face was a far more welcome sight than a new one.

Louis Saha was absent from the Everton team sheet against a backdrop of speculation he was on his way to Tottenham Hotspur and with new £6m signing Nikica Jelavic arriving from Rangers too late to make his debut, Denis Stracqualursi started up front on his own.

The Argentine almost scored with his first touch, leaping high at the far post to meet Landon Donovan’s corner, but his downward header was just about prevented from crossing the line by Joleon Lescott, who did well to get his head in the way.

City’s riposte was instant, David Silva sliding a ball in for Micah Richards to run on to and his low shot was well saved by Tim Howard.

Only seven minutes had been played, but the temperature inside Goodison Park was already rising, Stracqualursi unable to get enough power on another header, this time from Phil Neville’s cross, to alarm Joe Hart.

Again City replied, a vital touch from emergency centre-back Tony Hibbert taking the ball away from Edin Dzeko inside the area.

City’s fluid structure gradually began to stretch their hosts – who conceded possession far too easily- but they were unable to add a final ball to cut through them.

Everton do not possess the same threat, but they looked to harass their opponents into a mistake when they could, Donovan blazing over after Stracqualursi had jumped into Hart moments after his weak free-kick had failed to make the most of a promising situation Tim Cahill’s persistence had earned in drawing a foul from Gareth Barry.

Seeing they could hurt City, though, sent self-belief soaring and when a run and cross from Leighton Baines found Stracqualursi he headed the ball perfectly into the path of Marouane Fellaini who should have hit the target despite having to take the ball on the bounce.

Again City reacted to the affront with venom, a blistering long range effort from Samir Nasri rattling the crossbar and an offside flag halted Aguero’s attempt to slot it in the rebound.

A pitch invader sadly brought an end to an absorbing tussle by handcuffing himself to the frame of Hart’s goal – a unique attention grabbing trick, perhaps, but annoying for everyone else, not least the players who had to try and keep warm on a cold Merseyside night while he was removed.

Five additional minutes were added, but the drama had been subdued by the unwanted intruder. Jelavic was introduced to Everton fans at half-time in the usual slow walk to the centre-circle and wave tradition, while ‘Mr Handcuffs’ was led off to the cells to await the scales of justice

The game he interrupted remained finely balanced, although it took a while to get going in the second-half compared to the excitement of the first.

That all changed on the hour mark. Royston Drenthe had infuriated the home support with his ability to turn a promising position into a dead end, but for once he not only beat his man, but chose the right pass too.

Slipping the ball wide to Baines, his deep cross was controlled by Donovan, who got his head up, saw Darron Gibson arriving and laid the ball square for the Irishman to drill past Hart from the edge of the area.

A Gibson volley from a little further out flashed wide moments later, although Everton were content to soak up City pressure rather than throw men forward in search of a second.

City appealed for a penalty when Kolarov’s cross hit the hand of Phil Neville, before Richards’s overhead kick, but they did not cause the panic there manager would have wanted in Everton’s backline.

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