FA Premier League
Saturday 3 May 2014, 17.30 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Clichy, Milner, Garcia, Toure (Kolarov 66), Nasri (Silva 74), Dzeko Aguero (Fernandinho 28)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Negredo, Jovetic
Goals: Aguero (22), Dzeko (43, 48)
Booked: Garcia, Demichelis, Dzeko
Referee: Lee Probert
Man of the Match: Joe Hart
The game had quite a muted start, with both teams just testing the water and seeing what was what. The visitors had the better of the early chances, but Garcia’s header from a corner was straight at the goalkeeper, before Zabaleta skied an effort from just inside the box, following a very cute ball from Aguero.
But Everton’s first effort of the match found the net. It was a superb effort on ten minutes from Barkley from 20 yards out, as he curled it over and around Hart and into the top corner. The City goalkeeper didn’t stand a chance and the visitors had it all to do.
Five minutes later, Toure should probably have equalised. Some neat build-up between Clichy and Nasri found the Ivorian inside the left corner of the box. Holding off Osman, Toure worked it towards the centre of the goal and blasted for the top corner – Howard was beaten, but it flashed over the bar.
The home side wanted a penalty for a Kompany tackle on Barkley, but the referee ruled the Belgian had won the ball and from that the visitors broke. The ball fell kindly for Garcia who slid it through to Toure in the middle. There, the Ivorian played it through for Aguero in space on the right and his effort beat Howard at the near post for the equaliser. It was joy short-lived, though, as Aguero injured himself in scoring.
It looked like the game was going to trundle to half time as City looked well below par, but the Blues somehow got themselves in front. Dzeko took too many touches when played through and his low cross was blocked by Howard. Milner picked up the rebound and produced a lovely turn to get a cross in, where Dzeko’s header found the bottom corner.
In the opening minute of the second half, Hart pulled out a brilliant save to keep the visitors in front. Barkley broke with the ball past Garcia – who couldn’t stop him on a yellow card – and played in Naismith, who went through on a one-on-one. Hart was out quickly and tipped the placed effort around the post.
Immediately, though, City went on to boost their advantage. Nasri did brilliantly to keep possession on the right and cut inside. The Frenchman drilled a ball across the face of goal and Dzeko stabbed it into the roof of the net. The home players appealed for offside, but he was level and the goal stood.
There was a response from Everton: City sat on their laurels and allowed the hosts to control possession. Happy to allow the hosts more of the ball, on 64 minutes they were punished. A ball in from the left from Baines was well met by Lukaku and his header hit the inside of the post and hit the back of the net. City wanted offside, but the linesman kept his flag down.
With 20 minutes to play, City had a golden chance to add to their lead again. A cute ball inside by Milner allowed Zabaleta to run clean through on goal, but his left footed drive was blocked by Howard. The rebound, picked up by Kolarov, was curled over the bar.
Ten minutes later, there was a truly bizarre passage of play. Dzeko, clearly needing medical attention, wasn’t allowed it by the referee and was instead booked for timewasting for not getting up from the ground. The referee remained steadfast and wouldn’t allow the physio on and Dzeko wasn’t moving. Eventually, he allowed the striker to get treatment and showed him the yellow card.
City were under immense pressure – Deulofeu wriggled through most of the City defence after Demichelis blocked Barkley’s cross to the edge of the box. He got through to a one-on-one with Hart, who pulled off another good save to get the ball behind.
Despite the late pressure and six (becoming seven through timewasting) added minutes, City held on to the rare win at Goodison Park and went back to the top of the table.