Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Man City 3 Everton 1

With five minutes to go, as their side moved towards a morale-restoring victory, the Manchester City fans gathered in the corner of the Etihad Stadium’s north stand started up an ironic chant.

“We are staying up,” they sang, “say we are staying up.” After the sobering football lesson on Wednesday, the humour had returned. The defeat against Bayern Munich had been no laughing matter, City’s expensively acquired team passed to distraction, misery etched across the faces of players and crowd alike. This, however, was more like it: an accomplished victory over a previously unbeaten Everton side.

Here is how well this game went for City: Joe Hart, the villain of their defeat on Wednesday, left the pitch to a rousing ovation. And it would be hard even for members of Fraser Forster’s family to begrudge him his moment of rehabilitation.

Aggressive, muscular, skilful, this was a proper football match, in which the pace never relented. It was the kind of early Saturday fare that could be described as a full English. And with seven Englishmen starting, these days that is about as full an English as you get in the Premier League.

Roy Hodgson, watching from the stands, must have thought he had been transported back in time. Not least because both sides fielded centre-forwards of the old English school: big, bustling and a nightmare for defenders. The only pity for Hodgson is that, despite all apparent physical appearance, neither is actually English.

It was the visitors’ Romelu Lukaku who was the first to shine. In the 15th minute he ran on to a probing through-ball from Seamus Coleman and, bamboozling Joleon Lescott, advanced into the City area. His shot was too strong for Hart’s limp right hand and span into the net.

Looked at in isolation, it seemed Hart was still in his Wednesday trough. But the truth is a combination of Gordon Banks and Lev Yashin would have felt horribly exposed by Lescott’s fragility. The defender’s positioning as the ball came forward was inadequate, his attempt at a tackle feeble.

Besides, while the chance may have been gifted by errors, no one could argue with the finish. Lukaku’s was a strike which suggested that Chelsea must be richly endowed with forwards if they can afford to let him spend the season scoring for another team.

Fortunately for Hart, misery was not to last. Within 60 seconds it was gone, as he celebrated an equaliser, punching the air in the direction of the City fans. It came after a scorching pass by Yaya Touré split the Everton defence and Álvaro Negredo, like Lukaku a front man who ably mixes muscle and touch, weighed in to shoot past Tim Howard.

But while the big men were occupying the score sheet, the man who made the difference here was of more diminutive scale. After a trauma like Wednesday, City’s rehabilitation process was hugely assisted by having David Silva starting a game again after his extended injury absence.

The Spaniard’s intelligence, vision and unorthodox passing illuminated proceedings. With half-time approaching, he rolled a deliciously weighted pass down the outside of the Everton box, which Sergio Agüero – who had earlier fallen over his own feet running on to a similarly sharp pass from the Spaniard – blasted past Howard.

It was a goal to cheer anyone who enjoys intelligent football, though Roberto Martínez – normally an aficionado of such slick interplay – was not impressed. He believed the referee was at fault for not stopping the game to sort out a spat between Negredo and Coleman, an argument which unquestionably distracted the visitors as Silva advanced on them.

“I saw it as a fascinating game of football, with two teams wanting to score goals,” the Everton manager said. “My disappointment was that it wasn’t controlled by the referee. There were too many decisions which did not go our way.”

He was particularly exercised that Jonathan Moss missed a clear push by Matija Nastasić on James McCarthy in the heart of the City area. But if Moss was not in control, Silva was.

His reverse pass that sent Pablo Zabaleta charging into the area early in the second half was good enough to win any game, while the interchange of one-touch passing between him, Touré and James Milner that illuminated much of the proceedings reminded regulars of another side seen at the Etihad this season. Yes, it was Bayern Munich in sky blue.

Everton, dogged, resilient and with Ross Barkley suggesting to Hodgson a real midfield alternative for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers, tried to come back.

But City eased away in the 68th minute when Coleman flapped at yet another forward incursion by Zabaleta and the Argentine tumbled to the turf. Agüero steered the resulting penalty towards the corner of the net, Howard pushed it on to the post, from where it rebounded on to his head and into the net.

By the strictest of definitions it was an own goal, which was harsh on the Everton stalwart. But then, as Hart, cheerfully waving to the crowd as he left the pitch at the end, would acknowledge: goalkeepers are subject to a different level of scrutiny.

Source: Telegraph

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