City denied Xmas number one
Carlos Tevez's return was ruined as Everton grabbed a 2-1 win at Eastlands to keep Manchester City off top spot in the Premier League.
Last Updated: 20/12/10 10:46pm
Manchester City's Christmas party was spoilt by a resolute Everton side, who grabbed a crucial 2-1 win at Eastlands to deny their opponents a place at the top of the Premier League.
A win for City would have seen them top the table for the first time at Christmas in 81 years, but two early goals from Tim Cahill and Leighton Baines put them on the back foot immediately, leaving them chasing the game throughout.
The home team responded well in the second half, racking up 25 shots at goal and dominating proceedings, but in the end, only Yaya Toure's deflected shot off Phil Jagielka got them on the scoresheet, as Tim Howard and his defence proved a tough nut to crack.
The game was also supposed to be the great return of Carlos Tevez, as the Argentine committed his future to the club just hours before the game, but he cut a frustrated figure in the end and could not find a way past the Toffees' resolute backline in a game which ended with both teams reduced to ten men.
Instead of sitting top of the table on 25th December for the first time since 1929, City remain in third, beaten by David Moyes' side once more, who registered their fourth successive win at Eastlands.
Everton defended valiantly once they had gained the initiative and secured their first win since October.
Not even the needless dismissal of Victor Anichebe could stop them as Mario Balotelli hit a post after Yaya Toure's deflected effort had pulled one back.
No dream end
It meant there was no dream end to an evening that began with a statement confirming Tevez's intention to remain at City - for the short-term at least - after a week of bad blood between player and club.
How quickly football can change moods.
30 minutes before kick-off, Roberto Mancini was all smiles, explaining what a fillip it was that Tevez had withdrawn his transfer request and how the City family were now looking forward to the future with confidence.
Less than an hour later, he was angrily booting over a set of neatly-arranged water bottles, gesticulating wildly at his disappearing defence, not knowing whether to stand or sit such was the height of his agitation.
It is not as though City were without warning.
Everton's last three visits to this ground had ended in victory, the last two of which had involved a goal from Cahill.
That the Australian should find the net with a trademark header, after only four minutes, having been left completely unmarked by Vincent Kompany could explain Mancini's arm-waving reaction.
In fairness to Kompany, he was gambling to try and block a potential Seamus Coleman lay-off to Jack Rodwell.
Unfortunately for the hosts, in doing so, he offered Cahill a far easier opportunity as Coleman picked him out inside the six-yard box.
Everton's second came when Pablo Zabaleta was off the field having stitches inserted in a wound that followed a clash of heads with Cahill.
The bitter pill for City came in the form of Baines and Anichebe combining down the wing Zabaleta was supposed to be patrolling and Cahill providing the lay-off for a precise finish.
It was superb simplicity, although the beauty was lost on Mancini as Baines wheeled away in glee.
For a side that had not won in seven games since October, it was a glorious half, which they defended with vigour.
Six blocks to six shots in one City barrage, Phil Neville getting in the way of a Zabaleta shot and Phil Jagielka stopping one from Kompany, both of which brought penalty appeals.
Aleksandar Kolarov also went close with a free-kick Howard just managed to turn round the post as it threatened to creep in.
The Serbian went close with a dipping shot at the start of the second period after David Silva had combined with Tevez to set him up.
But City were running out of ideas until Anichebe threw them a lifeline with his ridiculous red card.
The striker, who has refused to sign a new contract and was a surprise selection ahead of Louis Saha, could just about be excused for barging over Joe Hart as he challenged for a ball he was never quite getting to.
His needless trip of Zabaleta four minutes later was totally irresponsible as it earned an obvious second yellow card and left Everton to fight on with only 10 men.
For good measure, Anichebe threw his gloves at Mancini's feet before marching off down the tunnel.
Even with their numerical advantage, City still needed a massive slice of good fortune to get themselves back into the contest as Yaya Toure's wayward shot struck Jagielka and bounced in.
That Jagielka was forced off through injury merely compounded Everton's woes although City had gone agonisingly close to grabbing an equaliser when Mario
Balotelli sprinted on to Toure's excellent pass, chipped Howard but saw the ball bounce back off the post.
Howard recovered his ground quickly enough to deny Tevez's close range effort with the follow-up.City piled forward at the end, but their only notable entry into referee Peter Walton's notebook was for the dismissal of Kolo Toure for two injury-time bookings.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||Everton|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|5||Shots on Target||2|
|12||Shots off Target||2|