Toffees boost Euro plans
Everton underlined their Champions League credentials as they brushed aside Manchester City at Eastlands.
By Peter Fraser
Last Updated: 26/02/08 7:32am
Everton underlined their UEFA Champions League credentials as they brushed aside European rivals Manchester City at Eastlands to reclaim fourth spot in the Premier League.
First-half goals from Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Joleon Lescott proved to be enough to allow Everton to regain a three-point margin over Merseyside foes Liverpool in the table, while City's night ended in despair as Martin Petrov was shown a late red card for kicking out at Leon Osman.
City had enjoyed the better of the first-half possession but they were toothless with it, while at the other end Everton forward Yakubu provided a master class in the art of the lone striker.
Having already survived an early shout for a penalty when Micah Richards appeared to handle an effort from Tim Cahill inside the 18-yard area, the home defence seemingly had little answer to the bustling pace and power of Yakubu.
And on the half-hour mark the Nigerian international deservedly had his goal as he fed Cahill on the left of the box before darting into the centre to convert the Australian's low cross.
Eight minutes later a surprisingly lacklustre City, who could have drawn level with Everton with three points, found themselves two behind as Lee Carsley retrieved a deep Osman corner to swing a cross into the head of Lescott.
City introduced Elano at half-time and the Brazilian did add some attacking potency, but Tim Howard in the Everton goal was never truly threatened and Petrov summed up the night for Sven Goran Eriksson's side as he was handed his marching orders in stoppage time.
Everton almost made the breakthrough in the sixth minute following a sweeping move. Carsley started it and found Steven Pienaar on the left. He delivered a pin-point cross into the area and while Yakubu lost his marker, Joe Hart did enough to put him off and the ball drifted out of play for a corner.
A minute later Everton had claims for a penalty dismissed by referee Rob Styles when a shot from Cahill came off the elbow of Richards.
The visitors came close to opening the scoring in the 28th minute when Pienaar latched onto a pass from Cahill, only for his effort to beat Hart but bounce back off the post.
Everton's pressure paid off on the half hour mark when Yakubu made the breakthrough with a typically assured finish.
And they made it 2-0 eight minutes later when Lescott got goal-side of Richard Dunne to head in a cross from Carsley.
They started the second period going forward too, with Phil Neville rifling a shot over the bar in the 47th minute after being set up by Pienaar.
Everton almost made it 3-0 in the 54th minute after some sloppy defending by City. Yakubu got the better of Richards and found Cahill in the six-yard area but his shot was cleared off the line by Dunne.
City had increased the tempo and were playing with more confidence but still finding Everton hard to break down. Petrov tried his luck after 64 minutes but his powerful effort from 20 yards was blocked by Carsley.
Play broke back down the other end and Everton made another unsuccessful penalty claim four minutes later. Richards was again involved and clearly handled Lescott's throw-in. However, referee Styles opted to award a free-kick on the edge of the area.
Osman whipped in a vicious shot that Hart did well to beat away before City scrambled the ball clear.
Everton were carving out numerous chances and Hart stood tall to block Johnson's effort in the 84th minute before Petrov was sent off for a moment of madness in the game's dying embers.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||Everton|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|4||Shots on Target||7|
|7||Shots off Target||3|