EVERTON 2, MANCHESTER CITY 0
For the second time in two seasons a superb Everton performance seems to have put paid to the title hopes of a Manchester club.
Goals by Leon Osman and Nikica Jelavic fatally ended City’s title dream in a game dominated by strange refereeing decisions by Lee Probert including a controversial handball decision against Marouane Fellaini which should have resulted in a penalty for City.
Everton manager David Moyes promised a reaction after their disappointing FA Cup defeat against Wigan last week and, in the week of the 11th anniversary of the Scot taking over at Goodison Park, produced the performance he demanded in response to finally end City’s title tilt this season.
City assistant manager David Platt conceded that Everton had worked hard for their win but pointed out that a handball decision in the second half might have been a game changer.
“It was not even on the line of the area.” he said, “Perhaps we could have got a bit more out of it if that decision had gone for us.”
City very much missed midfield talisman Yaya Toure who was missing with a migraine but the rest of the City side needed headache medication after they came across a motivated Everton side anchored by Everton’s back-up ‘keeper Jan Mucha who was one of Everton’s heroes with a succession of saves to deny early pressure from City.
The home side could perhaps could and should have had a goal after Kevin Mirallas fired home from eight yards out but he was flagged offside despite appearing to be level.
Mucha made saves from Silva, Dzeko and Tevez before Leon Osman put Everton into a first half lead with a magnificent curling effort courtesy of a pass from Seamus Coleman.
Steven Pienaar was sent off for a second yellow card after raking Javi Garcia’s shin in a dangerous tackle that was fully deserving of a straight red by referee Probert.
Tevez was mystified and angry when Probert denied him a penalty, instead awarding a free kick outside the area after it seemed certain that Marouane Fellaini had handled his strike from well within the area.
City threw caution to the wind in the second half, bringing on Samir Nasri and Scott Sinclair in an effort to rescue their title bid but Everton held firm and threw everything at Everton in the last quarter of the game but Jelavic finished off City with a late strike, his first in a dozen games, after Fellaini put him through.