Everton 1 - 0 Manchester City
Before yesterday, Manchester City had lost seven of their last nine against Everton. That became eight in ten thanks to an ex-Manchester United player. Everton?s Premier League record, at Goodison Park, against Manchester City now reads nine wins, four draws and two defeats. The Toffees delivered, arguably, their best performance of the season as they toppled Mancini?s millionaires. The home side proved that money is not always everything.
The side showed two changes from the Fulham victory with Royston Drenthe and Tony Hibbert recalled in place of Magaye Gueye and Shane Duffy. Everton began in a positive fashion, closing down and not allowing City to settle. Everton almost took the lead with their first chance. Joleon Lescott was on hand to clear Denis Stracqualursi?s header, from a Drenthe corner, off the line. City?s first opening came shortly afterwards, as Micah Richards forced a low save from Tim Howard, from a David Silva pass. The resulting corner saw a Lescott header easily saved by Howard.
With 10 minutes played, Stracqualursi had another opportunity. After good work by Drenthe and Landon Donovan, Phil Neville found space on the right hand side. The Everton captain fired in a cross but Stracqualursi?s header was straight at Joe Hart. At the other end, Gael Clichy sliced a shot wide, from a James Milner cross, as the visitors began to stir.
Sergio Aguero fired wide, from a ball over the top, as City began to take control in midfield. Everton began to sit back, allowing the visitors too much time and space in midfield. After 10 minutes on the back foot, Everton came back in to the game as half time approached. Leighton Baines won possession and drove a cross into the City box. Stracqualursi showed good control to lay the ball off and Marouane Fellaini?s first time effort flew wide of the near post.
City?s response was swift and the visitors were a coat of paint away from the lead. Everton failed to close down Samir Nasri and the Frenchman?s 25-yard effort crashed off the crossbar with Howard helpless. The offside flag greeted Aguero?s attempt to reach the follow-up. Aguero was again involved, as his shot rebounded off John Heitinga for a corner. The first half ended, as a Ryanair protester handcuffed himself to a goal post.
The first half ended with the teams all square. Everton had given a good account of themselves with Heitinga and Tony Hibbert excelling in a makeshift back four. Royston Drenthe was at his mercurial best, following each good moment with a bad one. Stracqualursi ran and ran in his pursuit of the ball whilst Fellaini and Darron Gibson had coped well with City?s movement.
The first opportunity of the second half fell to City, as Aguero burst towards the Everton area. After getting the better of Hibbert, his cross fell to Nasri but Baines blocked his effort. The Toffees took the lead with an hour gone as Gibson registered his first goal for the club. Drenthe broke, at pace, and his pass found Baines on the left. Donovan gathered Baines? cross and the onrushing Gibson hammered the American?s lay off towards goal. Goodison Park erupted as the Irishman?s drive rippled Hart?s net.
Gibson had two more efforts, as Everton continued to threaten. His right-footed effort skimmed wide and the left-footed volley flashed past the post. City introduced Adam Johnson in search of an equaliser and the winger had two shots blocked. Richards tried an ambitious overhead kick that went over, as City?s time began to run out. Stracqualursi had an effort from distance after a poor Hart clearance but it did not trouble the target.
Everton began to sit deeper and deeper, as the clock moved towards 90. Manchester City felt aggrieved as sub Aleksandar Kolarov?s cross hit Phil Neville?s outstretched arm. Peter Walton waved away the City protests and Everton counted their blessings. City failed to create chances, in the final 10 minutes, despite dominating possession. A weak Richards?s header was all the visitors could muster. Everton introduced Jose Baxter and Apostolos Vellios, late on, as players tired. The Toffees held on for a deserved win, as Everton songs echoed around the ground.
Nothing epitomised the Everton spirit more than Landon Donovan?s tackle in the second half. The American burst forward but the pass was over hit. Kolarov retrieved the loose ball and Donovan chased back, winning a throw-in with a slide tackle. Stracqualursi was Everton?s man of the match with an industrious display. The forward used the ball well, was a threat and chased lost causes throughout. The whole team impressed with Heitinga and Fellaini continuing their recent good form. Some fans disagreed with Hibbert?s choice, they need not have; he performed admirably. Neville remains a possible weak link at right back whilst Tim Cahill was back to his hassling best.
The optimism among fans has grown over the last week, mainly due to FA Cup win and transfer deals. The club let out of form Louis Saha leave for Tottenham Hotspur. The Â£5.5million signing of Croatian forward Nikica Jelavic countered the departure of Saha. There had been murmurings about the return of Steven Pienaar and the deal eventually went through before the deadline. Evertonians, and Leighton Baines, will be very optimistic about the return of Pienaar.
The new transfers and two good home wins have helped to lift the mood around the club. The Goodison Park atmosphere has improved greatly, in the last two games, due to the positive performance of the team. Yesterday was a great day to be an Evertonian; long may it continue.
Howard 6 Neville 6 Hibbert 7 Heitinga 8 Baines 7 Donovan 8 Fellaini 8 Gibson 7 Drenthe 6 Cahill 7 Stracqualursi 9
Subs: Baxter 6 Vellios N/A
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468 Posted 01/02/2012 at 07:21:56
I don't know what it is but I prefer a deflected shot off a player then go in sometimes especially when it is a Mega-Bucks club like City ? must really stick in their throat!
No but seriously, we deserved the 3 points and in all there were a lot of good individual performances: Stracq's work rate was great; Hibbert did really well in the centre-back position; Fellaini looks like a great attacking option, as we all know he can be when asked to do the job...
Just pleased to get three more on the board and getting a new stroker in Jelavic and having Peinaar back!! Great!!! I can't wait to see him and Baines back in action!
484 Posted 01/02/2012 at 08:02:47
There was a period in the 1st when the crowd were getting agitated, by the lack of intent and desire following a flowing move backwards from our own attack to defence, suddenly up pops the Strac with a typical chugging run and puts himself amongst city unsettling them and thus leading the way for his team mates, you could almost see the lift it gave to Cahill.
It's still early days, but I felt Gibson was a passenger for large parts of the game again, let's hope he gets upto speed soon and defines his role in the team as there is no doubting he's got a goal in him.
Overall a great win and a great atmosphere late on to warm us up on a cold night. Then arriving home to find out Pienaar had returned (from the fit Natalie Sawyer off SSN), just rounded off a perfect night.
499 Posted 01/02/2012 at 09:22:47
711 Posted 01/02/2012 at 18:04:43
Drenthe was class in moments and largely made the goal. Cahill was virtually non existent and is rated hight!?
714 Posted 01/02/2012 at 18:08:18
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