A BATTLING display from 10-man Everton prevented Manchester City from topping the table at Christmas for the first time since 1929.
Roberto Mancini’s side were boosted prior to kick-off by the news of Carlos Tevez’s transfer request u-turn, but that was as good as it got on a night of missed opportunities.
City fought back admirably after a trademark Tim Cahill header and a sumptuous Leighton Baines effort had put the visitors into an early 2-0 lead, but a string of fine saves from Tim Howard meant the home side were unable to complete the comeback following Phil Jagielka’s unfortunate 72nd minute own goal.
It was Cahill though, who set the example in typical all-action hero style, who drew most praise from his manager David Moyes after his side secured a belated first away win of the campaign.
“Tim Cahill epitomised what we’re about here,” said Moyes. “Tim’s energy levels were back to the old days. I thought they dipped a bit recently.
“We needed him to do it tonight, especially when we went down to 10 men but his energy levels were also great when we had 11.”
Everton were rampant early on, while City’s general malaise was epitomised by the concession of a fourth minute goal.
With Pablo Zabaleta off the field receiving treatment, Baines made progress down the left, his deep cross fell to Seamus Coleman whose dink to the near post found Cahill totally unmarked, and the Australia international couldn’t miss.
Cahill was involved 15 minutes later when Baines met his touch back with a curling right-footed shot that arrowed into Joe Hart’s far corner.
City were handed a route back into the game when Victor Anichebe was sent off on the hour for two yellow card offences, and a grand stand finish was ensured when Jagielka deflected Yaya Toure’s shot past a flat- footed Howard.
But a mixture of fine goalkeeping and stout defending meant City, who lost Kolo Toure to a red card in the last minute, were to be frustrated.
Mancini said: “We have missed a big opportunity to go top and I think we are disappointed.
“Football is unbelievable but the season is long and we must now start again. There are three more games this month.”
Tevez U-turn over his future
MANCHESTER CITY striker Carlos Tevez retained the captaincy for last night’s match after retracting his transfer request.
Tevez stunned City last week by demanding to leave Eastlands in January, blaming homesickness and a breakdown in relations with the City hierarchy.
But following talks with the Argentina star the club issued a statement insisting any disagreement with their highest-paid player had been ironed out.
“Manchester City can confirm to its fans that ‘clear-the-air’ talks have been held with Carlos Tevez,” read the statement. “During the meeting Carlos expressed his absolute commitment to the club and formally withdrew his transfer request. Carlos’ contract remains unchanged and both Carlos and the football club are keen to focus on the opportunities that lie ahead.”
Manager Roberto Mancini added: “I am pleased we are now able to focus on pure football matters and able to look forward to Carlos continuing to play a significant role in the club’s progress.”