Lukaku adds to Pellegrini's woes as Everton edge closer to Wembley
Capital One Cup Semi-Final First Leg
Wednesday 06 January 2016, 20.00 KO
City: Caballero, Sagna, Otamendi, Mangala (Demichelis 46), Clichy, Fernandinho, Delph (Navas 54), Toure, Silva, De Bruyne (Fernando 91), Aguero
Unused: Hart, Kolarov, Sterling, Iheanacho
Goals: Navas (76)
Referee: Robert Madley
Man of the match: Sagna
City will have to come from a goal behind if they are to reach the Capital One Cup final, after a 2-1 defeat at Goodison Park in the first leg of the semi-final. It was another disappointing away performance from Manuel Pellegrini's side, and question marks remain over the Chilean's ability to arrest the current malaise afflicting the Blues.
City started well here, dominating possession in the opening fifteen minutes and subduing an expectant Goodison crowd, albeit without creating any real chances of note. As the half progressed, Everton grew in stature and Nicolas Otamendi stopped Romelu Lukaku from opening the scoring with a well-timed challenge. The hosts had two goals correctly ruled out for offside, firstly from John Stones and then minutes later from Lukaku, but it was clear that the home team were in the ascendancy.
Sergio Aguero almost gave City an undeserved lead in the 42nd minute, but saw his shot well saved by Joel Robles and his follow-up effort was blocked on the line by Leighton Baines. It looked as though the teams would go in level at the break, but Yaya Toure and Otamendi conspired to concede an unnecessary corner on the brink of half-time and Everton took full advantage. Ross Barkley fired in a fierce shot that Willy Caballero did well to parry, but Ramiro Mori was on hand to break the deadlock with his first ever goal at Goodison Park. Pellegrini later argued, with some justification, that Lukaku had been in an offside position but the goal stood.
City's misery was further compounded at the interval when Eliaquim Mangala was withdrawn with a hamstring injury, and the creaking Martin Demichelis was forced into the fray. Everton started the second half on the front foot and came close to extending their lead on a number of occasions, only to be thwarted by Caballero. The Argentinian keeper has been much maligned since his move to England but was in good form here, and arguably kept City in the tie with a series of smart saves, notably from Ross Barkley. City's best chances came from Aguero, who sliced wide with the goal at his mercy, and Kevin De Bruyne who saw his first-time shot well saved by Robles.
In the 76th minute, City launched a counter attack from an Everton corner and Aguero's perfectly weighted pass was converted by Jesus Navas, a second half substitute for Fabian Delph. It was the winger's first goal in 66 games, and his relief was palpable. Minutes earlier he had been denied a clear penalty after being brought down in the area by Kevin Mirallas, yet referee Madley inexplicably waved play on.
City's celebrations were short-lived, however, when just two minutes later a Gareth Barry cross evaded Demichelis and Lukaku planted a firm header past Caballero. The Belgian international injured himself in the process, and is now a doubt for the league meeting between the sides at The Etihad on Tuesday. It was scant consolation for Pellegrini, whose side now face a difficult task if they are to reach a second League Cup final in three years.