The emphasis was about the form of Joe Hart or, more to the point, the lack of it, however, it was his opposite number who should be in the headlines for his disappointing display in two of the three City goals. As anticipated the England number one retained his place who had a reasonable game.
Overall, the hosts were deserved winners because they carried the main threat unlike Everton who were content to use the effectiveness of their pace and power. Deadline day addition Romelu Lukaku looked more of a beast than Negredo throughout the encounter for a typical performance from him to continually be a nightmare.
One person who didn’t have a day remember was referee Jon Moss who doesn’t look like he has learnt from his mistakes from his previous match at Old Trafford. He made some iffy decisions again for not dishing out cards when they were needed and vice versa. He is definitely losing the plot.
Manuel Pellegrini extended his 100% record against the Merseysiders to three games in what was a professional performance all round. For Everton, their unbeaten run concluded in a game where they missed the experience of Barry with Leon Osman filling in for him in that position. They lacked defensive leadership, on the other hand; it was a promising attacking display to prove they can be competitive with the big boys in the first half.
Both keepers were called upon early doors via shots from Naismith and Yaya Toure respectively, though the Naismith attempt was basically a through ball for Lukaku that was gobbled up by Hart. It was Tim Howard whom had to be worked in the opening ten minutes after Toure’s bending strike forced a dive to Howard’s left, he was tested at his left hand side again only seconds later with Kolarov’s free kick stroking the side netting that many in the stadium believed was the other side of the net.
Despite City asking all the questions, it was Romelu Lukaku who broke the deadlock after beating the offside trap to gain a 1v1 with the wobbly Hart who conceded regardless of the fact he got a hand onto the Belgian’s effort. Lescott could have been blamed partly for the goal since he seemed to be rather easy to beat.
The game was back to square one a minute later with almost a replica of the first to prove the cliche you are always the most likely to concede once you have scored. This time it was Alvaro Negredo received the ball from a shimmying Yaya Toure, after an overlap to get in behind,to slot it through the legs of the Everton number one.
This further increased the tempo of what was already a gripping game. A manoeuvre straight from the training ground occured in the latest City set piece with a series of neat direct passes to open up Jagielka and co that concluded with Aguero curling his shot a little too far to the left.
Just as the Blues were building some momentum, they were dealt a killer blow through the forced departure of influential captain Kompany who didn’t look as if he was in as much pain as first feared. Nastasic was introduced in a change that seemed to be more of a precautionary measure than anything. A physical presence was lost which left more for Everton to exploit on the counter with the inexperienced Serbian who could and maybe should have conceded a penalty for pushing Lukaku off the ball.
As the half time whistle loomed, Sergio Aguero netted to take the lead for the first time. The Argentine took Silva’s cute pass in his stride, he ignored the pressure from Distin to fire home by shooting across the goal which is what all strikers naturally do. The goal could have partially been a consequence of the scuffle between Coleman and Negredo after Coleman brought down the Spaniard unfairly. James Milner was booked at the whistle for a reckless challenge on James McCarthy who was left on the ground to finalize a prime example of a Premier League half of football.
The enthralling contest resumed in the second period with the same intensity of every single man. The home side were on the front foot but it was the Toffees who were granted the first big opportunity of the final 45 minutes following a neat few passes that culminated with a searching ball forward for Mirallas from, the man in the spotlight, Ross Barkley who is slowly but surely fulfilling the hype surrounding him. It was a bit too powerful for the Everton number eleven with the ball gathered by Joe Hart.
Pelligrini was required to make another defensive switch with Kolarov being replaced by Clichy in a like for like change for a cut near his eye after a collision with his own teammate, and fellow Serb Nastasic.
With only a quarter of the game remaining, Seamus Coleman presented a penalty for Aguero for shoving Zabaleta (who had treatment a short time prior to the incident) in what was similar to the other penalty appeal against Nastasic earlier in the game. Tim Howard, who was booked for protesting, was unlucky to concede from the spot kick when he managed to tip the ball onto the post only for it ricochet off the post and bounce off his head to nestle in the net.
Martinez’s team refused to accept defeat and lie down, still they couldn’t replicate the high standards of the first half which was all about pace and strength. They were a bit flat so it came to people’s surprise that Romelu Lukaku was taken off to make way for former Wigan forward Arouna Kone.
Match rating: 7/10