February 2012 - Reports
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Manchester City 3  Blackburn Rovers 0   Rover Roll Over
Saturday 26th February 2012 : GYKO at the Etihad

Manchester City took advantage of a supine Blackburn Rovers to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points over Manchester United, whose manager will doubtless be considering an angry complaint to the Jockey Club, or anyone else who will listen, about the in-and-out running of Steve Kean's relegation-threatened side.

The situation at the top of the Premier League might be much closer had not Blackburn managed a surprise win at Old Trafford a couple of months ago, or alternatively had they shown the same sort of attacking enterprise here. Instead, Blackburn accepted defeat so meekly that Joe Hart barely touched the ball all evening, much less made a save. The visitors' first, and only, attempt on goal came in stoppage time. A Carlos Tevez apology has contained more fight.

Roberto Mancini issued a curt welcome back to Tevez in his programme notes, but the club wisely refrained from making him a visible presence at the game, indicating the manager has plenty of other strikers to be going on with; the Argentinian must wait until next month at least for a look-in. How the City crowd will greet him when he does show his face is a matter of lively debate; opinion among fans seems to be divided.

City began as if they intended to show Tevez he could stew for a little while yet, Mario Balotelli taking under a minute to bring a superb reaction save from Paul Robinson on the home side's first attack, although initial impressions were slightly misleading. Despite the whole of the game being played in the Blackburn half, City spent the next half-hour passing the ball around Robinson's penalty area without managing to test the goalkeeper again. Balotelli did bring a save from a 30-yard free-kick and Adam Johnson's hopeful effort from outside the area was scrambled away rather than caught cleanly, but Robinson was comfortable dealing with long-range efforts and it said much about City's lack of real penetration that they were unable to fashion any opportunities closer to goal.

Then on the half-hour mark they did, cutting Blackburn open so cleanly that Robinson could have seen little of the Balotelli shot that gave City the lead. David Silva took the ball from Yaya Touré and sent Aleksandar Kolarov galloping down the left for a low cross that Balotelli met on the six-yard line with a first-time finish that gave the goalkeeper no chance. Robinson found himself quite busy between the first goal and the interval, first keeping out a shot from Silva that came straight at him and then improvising instinctively when Vincent Kompany's flick from a corner seemed to have taken him by surprise.

Perhaps a one-goal, half-time lead was nothing to shout about against a Blackburn side that had slipped back into the bottom three before the game kicked off as a result of Wolves' comeback at Newcastle. But this is the same Blackburn who beat United and drew at Anfield, both times after spending the first half soaking up home pressure, so Mancini would have been reasonably pleased just to turn round in front. He would have been even more pleased had Sergio Agüero accepted an opportunity to double the lead in the last seconds of first-half stoppage time, instead of missing the target completely.

While there was only one goal in the game, City had to be on their guard, even against opponents who were reluctant to cross the halfway line, but when City scored again seven minutes into the second half all pretence of a contest was over. Agüero was the scorer, making up for his earlier miss, but surprisingly the provider was Blackburn's Robinson, who made a hash of a routine catch at a corner and ended up presenting the striker with the ball and an open goal.

Blackburn were never likely to come back from that. All evening they had failed to get anyone forward to give Yakubu Ayegbeni any meaningful support and they did not significantly change their gameplan once when they trailed by two goals. It was as if they had already written off their chances here in favour of concentrating on a run of slightly more winnable games coming up. "We never kept the ball well enough to threaten, but at least we have no injuries," Kean said, revealingly. "We have some games now against clubs around us, like Villa, Bolton and Wigan."

City are not so full of confidence at the moment that they cannot be rattled by conceding a goal, but Blackburn never put the matter to the test, merely giving a collective shrug when Edin Dzeko scored within a minute of taking the field with a firm header from another Kolarov cross.

Ironically, Mancini had claimed beforehand that there is no such thing as an easy game in the Premier League. He may want to reconsider. "I am happy because our three strikers scored three goals," Mancini said, before sending out his assistant to take further questions. "There's a belief that we can win games here," David Platt said. "But there are some wins that you have to grind out."

Manchester City 4 FC Porto 0     Porto's Not So Incredible Hulk
Wednesday 22nd February 2012 : GYKO at the Etihad

There was merriment as well as a little achievement. A surge of three goals in the last quarter of an hour swept Manchester City into the last 16 of the Europa League, where they will take on Legia Warsaw or Sporting Lisbon. This contest was serious enough for Rolando, the visitors' centre-half, to be sent off with a second yellow card for dissent. He had protested, wrongly, that the substitute Edin Dzeko had been offside when giving City a 2-0 lead after 76 minutes.

The firepower is to be enhanced, too, now that City will rehabilitate Carlos Tevez, who is no longer estranged. The ambitions of the victors are in proportion to the great sums at their disposal, but this is also a club coming to terms with expectations. It should not be forgotten that, where major honours are concerned, City have collected just one League Cup and one FA Cup in the past 36 years.

Regardless of the current means, the squad can still look tentative, even if there were flourishes here. Progress in the Europa League must have value, despite the thoughtless sneers, if it adds to the confidence. No side can doubt its impact when it takes the lead after 19 seconds, with Sergio Agüero the scorer.

It was critical to the impact of Roberto Mancini's line-up that Yaya Touré, the creator of the opener, took the field at the Etihad Stadium for the first time since his return from the Africa Cup of Nations. "I've tried to find another Yaya in the squad but there is no one," the City manager admitted before that tournament started. That predicament will have to be addressed in the next round since Touré will miss the first leg through suspension.

The Agüero goal had its origin in a sloppy clearance by Nicolás Otamendi that went to Nigel de Jong, but the punishment initiated by Touré's pass to the scorer was ruthless and adroit. Mancini's side had a buoyancy because of Touré and although a 2-1 victory in Porto from a goal down in the first leg had been an excellent result, there was a certain grind to a display that brought half a dozen bookings.

City could afford to be carefree here and there was, for instance, no angst when Agüero hit the bar after the goalkeeper Helton had rushed out of his area and been unable to get to the ball first. Any openings that presented themselves to Porto tended to be bungled and the general proficiency of their play counted for little. Virtually everything flowed in City's favour.

Porto, indeed, were the ideal contestants, since they were good enough to test City without raising the possibility that they could actually beat them. The visitors were watched by their former manager, André Villas-Boas. He had hurried back from the Champions League defeat at Napoli for his present club Chelsea. Porto were in trouble here, but Villas-Boas might still have felt a pang of nostalgia on occasion.

Little worked for Porto, however, and Maicon accidentally landed a kick to the head of Otamendi, who was substituted. Following the interval, a fragile Porto were breached by a second City goal, with Agüero setting up Dzeko. The scorer and his fellow substitute, David Pizarro, then combined before David Silva finished. The last strike came with a shot from Pizarro himself, his first goal for the club.

City never treated this match as a chore. If there is an appreciation that trophies have been lacking until last season, the present squad seem keen to pack the cabinet. This outing, too, will have reminded City of the value in the flair they occasionally suppress in the Premier League.

Teams

Man City Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Barry (Milner 58), De Jong, Silva, Toure Yaya, Nasri (Dzeko 69), Aguero (Pizarro 80).

Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Savic, Balotelli.

Booked: Toure Yaya.

Goals: Aguero 1, Dzeko 76, Silva 84, Pizarro 86.

FC Porto Helton, Alex Sandro, Rolando, Otamendi (Cristian Rodriguez 63), Maicon, Gonzalez, Fernando, Joao Moutinho, Varela (Sapunaru 63), Hulk, James Rodriguez (Defour 81).

Subs Not Used: Bracali, Kleber, Djalma, Podstawski.

Sent Off: Rolando (77).

Booked: Rolando, Gonzalez, Otamendi.

Agg (6-1)

Att: 39,538

Ref: Wolfgang Stark (Germany).

FC Porto 1 Manchester City 2     Balotelli in no Card Revelation
Thursday 16th February 2012 : Ron Beresford for GYKO at the Estádio do Dragão

Manchester City forced a late win from a Sergio Agüero strike but this entertaining contest was tainted by the racist chants aimed at Mario Balotelli and Yaya Touré, the latest such unsavoury incidents to disfigure English clubs' seasons.

Kolo Touré, an unused member of City's playing staff here, was said to have heard and been shocked at what sounded like monkey noises made at his brother when he disputed a decision made by the referee, Cuneyt Cakir, in the first half and Balotelli also seemed to draw a similar noise as the opening 45 minutes drew to a close. The Italian was then subjected to more chants when he was replaced by Agüero in the 77th minute.

After Yaya and Kolo Touré jetted into northern Portugal from the disappointment of losing the Africa Cup of Nations final on penalties to Zambia to rejoin the squad, Roberto Mancini offered a surprise by selecting the younger of the Ivorians in a strong XI.

Yaya Touré is the driving force in Mancini's side and with City having no action after this until the return leg next Wednesday at the Etihad Stadium the Italian hoped his talisman could instantly resume where he had left off after his last appearance on 3 January – the 3-0 league win over Liverpool, in which he scored.

But despite a powerhouse City front six that had Touré flanked by David Silva and Samir Nasri with the returning Mario Balotelli up top and Gareth Barry and Nigel De Jong in front of the defence, Mancini's team would walk off at the break losing 1-0.

As Porto's night-time lights blinked through the open ends of the Estádio De Dragão it was, though, Touré who produced the game's first surge, a run along the right flank that turned the home defence. This was then superseded by Vitor Pereira having the satisfaction of watching his side find their slick gears.

The coach, who took charge of the holders of this competition after André Villas-Boas's treble of domestic championship, Portuguese Cup and Europa League landed him the Chelsea job last summer, saw most of his side's joy come down Micah Richards' right flank. James Rodríguez twice moved inside from his left channel to sweep the ball across midfield, the second time finding Silvestre Varela on the opposing flank in space which he might have exploited better.

After Alvaro Pereira and João Moutinho exchanged quick-quick passes down the left and the former's ball into the City area was mopped up by Gareth Barry, the visitors had a serious scare. The game's opening corner was played short by Rodríguez and when the ball came floating in, Rolando was allowed a free header that hit Gaël Clichy and was tipped over by Joe Hart.

This awoke City who three times might have taken the lead Porto would assume on 27 minutes.

Before Varela's strike, a Samir Nasri free-kick found Touré and his snap shot forced the save from Helton. When the ball rebounded to Micah Richards lurking to the right of Porto's area, his attempt was again repelled by the keeper, this time low to his left.

Moments later Nasri zoomed beyond the home defence and blazed a 25-yarder at Helton who produced his third impressive stop.

The opener arrived after Helton became the latest Porto man to give Richards a problem along his right berth, zipping past the defender and unloading a low ball that Varela beat Vincent Kompany to for the finish.

As the half neared its end there was a further alarm for Mancini's troops: a corner from the left came out to Lucho González and the midfielder's instant effort pin-balled off the City rearguard and de Jong had to clear with an overhead kick.

The so far anonymous Balotelli had two late chances to level proceedings: first with a header he was too sluggish with and then to convert Clichy's curving ball from the left. But the telling final touch escaped the striker.

This proved an augury of better fortunes (and a helping of luck) when the game resumed following the break. First, Richards smacked the ball off the post early on and then on 55 minutes City had the equaliser.

A Touré cross was aimed towards Balotelli and Alvaro Pereira and when the pair collided the ball hit the Porto defender and beat Helton who had broken from his line.

City took the lead on 69 minutes when great work by Yaya Touré down the right culminated with a slide rule pass to Segio Aguero who slotted home comfortably.

After their late strike, City will fancy their chances of progressing and in fairness this was a well deserved win in front of a seriously partisan crowd whose only failing was the moronic abuse of City's black players, a problem that doesn't seem to go away in Portugal much to their shame.

Teams

FC Porto Helton, Danilo (Mangala 22), Rolando, Maicon, Pereira, Gonzalez, Fernando, Joao Moutinho, Varela (Kleber 77), Hulk, James Rodriguez, Mangala (Defour 89).

Subs Not Used: Bracali, Cristian Rodriguez, Djalma, Alex Sandro.

Booked: Danilo, Pereira.

Goals: Varela 27.

Man City Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Barry, De Jong, Nasri (Zabaleta 88), Toure Yaya, Silva (Kolarov 82), Balotelli (Aguero 78).

Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Pizarro, Dzeko, Savic.

Booked: Toure Yaya, Kompany, De Jong, Barry, Nasri, Richards.

Goals: Pereira 55 og, Aguero 84.

Att: 47,417

Ref: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey).

Aston Villa 0 Manchester City 1  Back on Top
Sunday 12th February 2012 : Owen Carr for GYKO at Villa Park

Even a squad as sleek and polished as Manchester City cannot triumph unless they know how to grind their way to victory. They now lead the Premier League by two points because of a set-piece, with Joleon Lescott scoring the only goal of the game, from a corner-kick in the 63rd minute. Pragmatism was at the heart of City's display, but they quaked towards the close when Carlos Cuéllar headed high when unmarked. Later still, Joe Hart made an outstanding save from Villa's Darren Bent.

Nonetheless, the hosts mostly offered only resistance until boldness became obligatory once the deadlock was broken. Allowances can be made for largely conservative hosts in view of City's prowess, but that does not account for the fact that Villa lie 15th in the table. Supporters will be relieved that their side are seven points above the relegation zone, yet also indignant that survival in the top flight is any sort of issue.

Alex McLeish, the manager under strain, may have felt a little more beleaguered by the loss of his defender Richard Dunne to a suspected dislocated shoulder near the end of the match. "He's not going to be back for the next game, that's for sure," the Scot said. "It's part of the bad luck we've been having recently. We've got a specialist in right now looking at him. I do believe he's going to be out for at least a month."

Where City are concerned, even absentees carry a little glamour. The forward Carlos Tevez is still estranged from the club since his apparent refusal to warm up as a substitute during the match with Bayern Munich in September. Roberto Mancini did not suggest that the relationship with Tevez is about to be mended, but neither did the manager give any sense of lingering conflict.

"It's up to him," said Mancini. "Carlos knows everything. We are here, we [City] didn't change in these months. Carlos is a City player. I am there, Carlos knows. I spoke to him one week after Munich." The topic, of course, rises close to the top of the agenda when goals look harder to come by for the club, but that in itself does nothing to mend the damage already done in this affair.

Ambition seems far more of a burden to City than an inspiration. Even if the thought is never spoken aloud, there must be a fear that an outstanding opportunity to win the title could yet be squandered by Mancini and his squad.

The City manager tried to play down the contribution of Hart towards the close of this match, probably because he would therefore have drawn attention to the strain his side were under towards the end. "When one player is young, he needs to work a lot," said Mancini. "I think he improved a lot in the last three years, but he is only 24."

McLeish, by contrast, had no hesitation in depicting the England goalkeeper Hart as one of the elite already. "Experience is only going to make him better and he's already in the top five goalies in the world," McLeish stated. Even so, Hart showed some of his worth by maintaining concentration when there was so little to do.

The hosts primarily had containment in mind. There has been a realisation that sides such as Villa, who find themselves low in the Premier League table, will have an obdurate and glum attitude, even though that does nothing to relieve the pressure on McLeish.

No one, all the same, expected anything other than prudence when neither side had scored. The Villa supporters, so long as the match was goalless, accepted such an outlook because of the means at City's disposal. The LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane, with his loan spell at Villa Park ending, had no opportunity to round off his stay with a flourish.

City, however, were almost as incapable. The strain seemed to tell when a forward of Sergio Agüero's accomplishment haplessly misdirected a free-kick from an angle in the 40th minute. In open play, City were pedantic, with too many studied passes when the need was for flicks and mercurial movement.

That frame of mind is understandable when so much is at stake, but the victors in the search for a Premier League title will surely be the line-up that still have self-expression in their moves. The obstacles, in fairness, were substantial, especially when an attacker of Emile Heskey's build often looked like an additional right-back.

Villa shed some of their conservatism after the interval even before they had fallen behind. Just as City once again looked too dependent on David Silva to outclass the opposition, they decided the outcome with a set piece. The goal,with Gareth Barry heading back a James Milner corner for Lescott to hook home, was no spectacle but it delighted Mancini and his men.

The manager repeated an opinion he has aired before by being adamant that Manchester United "are still better than us". It is an observation he can be happy to make when the League table still shows the Old Trafford club a little below City.

Teams:

Aston Villa Given, Hutton, Dunne (Baker 90), Collins, Cuellar, Petrov, Albrighton (Ireland 77), Gardner, Keane, Bent, Heskey (N'Zogbia 69).

Subs Not Used: Guzan, Warnock, Bannan, Weimann.

Booked: Petrov, Dunne, N'Zogbia.

Man City
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Barry, De Jong, Milner, Silva (Richards 90), Johnson (Nasri 84), Aguero (Dzeko 89).

Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Pizarro, Savic, Clichy.

Goals: Lescott 63.

Att: 35, 132

Ref: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

Manchester City 3 Fulham 0    Snow fun for Fulham
Saturday 4th February 2012 : GYKO at the Etihad Stadium

Manchester City made the best of difficult conditions to keep the pressure on Manchester United when they visit Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, brushing off a negligible Fulham challenge to win by three goals and put the same number of points between themselves and their neighbours.

It was not a vintage display but it was never going to be, given the wintry weather. City simply needed a convincing win to put their recent setbacks behind them and they easily accomplished that. They might have won by four goals but for a weak finish by Micah Richards late in the game, but the way the City captain muscled an uninterested Mousa Dembélé off the ball before setting off on a determined solo run neatly encapsulated the difference in attitudes between the two sides.

"We needed to win quickly after the Everton defeat, and keeping a clean sheet was important," Roberto Mancini said. "Maybe we had some luck, but you need luck. If you are not lucky it is better to stay at home."

Martin Jol was less inclined to believe in good fortune. "We conceded a soft penalty and an own goal," the Fulham manager said. "That's always going to make it hard away from home against a quality team."

City had to turn to the error-prone Stefan Savic in central defence when Vincent Kompany was unable to shake off a knee injury picked up at Everton, though there were plenty of attacking options at the other end with David Silva, Samir Nasri, Sergio Agüero and Edin Dzeko all in the starting line up, albeit with Nasri in central midfield to allow Adam Johnson to complete a front four. Dzeko was nominally the focus and was quickly involved, bringing a save from Mark Schwarzer in the second minute then volleying over the bar from Gareth Barry's cross.

The first time City used the full width of their attack they took the lead through a penalty, as Agüero on the left found Johnson on the right and the winger went to ground after the merest hint of a tackle from Chris Baird. It was not clear whether there was any intent, or even whether there had actually been a foul, though Mike Dean took his time before deciding contact had been made and Agüero finished with aplomb from the spot. "Johnson did well to get the penalty," Jol said with a wry smile. "He gave the referee a decision to make."

Simon Davies brought a save from Joe Hart and Damien Duff saw a shot roll the wrong side of a post before Baird's day got even worse on the half hour when he deflected a shot from Johnson past his own goalkeeper. Aleksandar Kolarov had crossed from the left for Agüero's flick to find Johnson unmarked at the far post, though his shot was going across the face of goal until it hit Baird and went in. Fulham were in trouble now and as if to emphasise the fact, Philippe Senderos almost contributed another own goal from a Richards cross, only this time Schwarzer was able to react and make a save.

City could have had another penalty when Dickson Etuhu brought down Silva with a challenge that looked riskier than the one from Baird that had been penalised. A third goal also looked likely when Agüero attempted to launch a quick break from halfway on the stroke of the interval, yet with Dzeko, Silva and Johnson all running into space in support, he failed to look up in time and ended up over hitting a pass that eluded all of them.

The pitch remained playable throughout the second half, although one of the penalty boxes had to be freshly defined with a shovel, but with snow coming down constantly the game was occasionally in danger of disappearing from view. The first shot on target after the interval came from Fulham, Stephen Kelly obliging Hart to make a routine stop after 62 minutes. It would be harsh considering the conditions to say that the previous 15 minutes of football had not amounted to much, but it said a lot that the men with the snow shovels produced a much livelier crowd reaction than anything the players managed.

Senderos was rather harshly booked for what was no more than an accidental collision with Kolarov on the edge of the area when players on both sides were finding it difficult to stay on their feet. The defender hurt himself in the process and for one reason or another found himself unable to challenge Agüero as he set up City's third, allowing the Argentinian to skip into the area from Johnson's pass and square the ball to leave Dzeko a chance he could not miss.

Fulham managed to hit a post shortly afterwards, or at least a deflection off Dzeko's heel did following a corner, but the visitors' luck was out. City's was definitely in. After losing in midweek to a feisty and highly-motivated Everton, they could not have asked for more accommodating opponents.

An unmemorable contest long over, the announcement of five minutes added time at least brought one of the best chants of the season, the crowd sang, "It's f***ing freezing, we wanna go home."

Teams

Man City Hart, Richards, Savic, Lescott, Kolarov, Nasri (Milner 54), Barry, Silva, Johnson (Pizarro 90), Aguero (De Jong 80), Dzeko.

Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Clichy, Rekik.

Booked: Kolarov.

Goals: Aguero 10 pen, Baird 30 og, Dzeko 72.

Fulham Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Senderos (John Arne Riise 73), Baird, Davies, Murphy, Etuhu (Ruiz 68), Duff, Dembele (Gecov 85), Dempsey.

Subs Not Used: Stockdale, Kasami, Hughes, Frei.

Booked: Senderos, Dembele, Baird.

Att: 46,963

Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).

Everton 1 Manchester City 0   Not so Goodison
Wednesday 1st February 2012 : Brian Johnstone for GYKO at Goodison Park

It was a night when one man brought handcuffs and Manchester City played as though in a straitjacket. They will go into February top of the league, encouraged by the fact that the last eight titles have been won by the team leading at this stage, but this was a dishevelled, almost perplexing performance on an evening that will otherwise be remembered for a pitch invader handcuffing himself to the goalposts.

Never before has a Premier League match been interrupted by a middle-aged man protesting about Ryanair's recruitment policies, on the apparent basis that his daughter did not get a job with the airline. Play was suspended for four minutes while a dozen or so stewards and police officers worked out how to release him, the solution arriving when a member of groundstaff found some bolt-cutters. In hindsight, City probably regret the game was not abandoned.

It was a surreal subplot to a match in which they rarely looked like a team good enough to challenge for the title. They have found Everton the nearest thing to a bogey club in recent years and Darron Gibson's second‑half winner, his first goal since signing from Manchester United last month, means they have won only two of their last 15 league games at Goodison.

Taking into account the fact Everton were missing their first-choice centre‑halves and had six outfield players on their bench with an average age below 20, it was worrying in the extreme for a side with City's ambitions. If they are going to hold off Manchester United, now level on points, they are going to need a dramatic improvement between now and May regardless of Mancini's insistence that it was all his fault.

The City manager said he had prepared the team badly and been guilty of under-estimating their opponents. "I thought it may be easier," he said. "I didn't prepare us well and it is important for me to know my mistakes because I can't do the same in the next game. I should know here it is never easy – never.

"We had played well against Tottenham in our last game, we had won our last three Premier League games and Everton were missing three or four players. It was a bad night for me. It's going to be impossible for me to sleep tonight."

City had plenty of possession but did little with it. Their full-backs seldom broke forward in the usual manner, the forwards struggled and, faced by a team that are renowned for effort and togetherness, they did not always demonstrate the same competitive spirit. However much he defended his team, Mancini will have noted the way Gareth Barry turned his back on Gibson's shot for the game's decisive moment.

The story of City's failures should not overshadow the way Everton overcame the absence of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin in the centre of defence to keep out the division's leading scorers. This was David Moyes's 150th league victory. "Arguably it might have been the best," he said. "The team we had, the players missing, we had to defend for long times but it was a great effort. That's as good as it has been at Everton for a long time."

Their performance was epitomised by the way Tony Hibbert, a right-back by trade, handled his move to centre-half, despite giving away six inches to Edin Dzeko. John Heitinga was equally impressive and, though the home team seldom threatened City's goal, there was plenty more to impress Nikica Jelavic, watching from the stands after his £6m move from Rangers.

City will look back on the moment, with the game goalless, when Samir Nasri thumped a 30-yard effort against the joint of post and crossbar but, in total, they managed only three shots on goal. The passing was nowhere near as crisp as usual. Even in the half-hour when they were losing, the increased pressure never really amounted to anything.

David Silva had little patches and Sergio Agüero flitted in and out but even when they were playing the more cohesive football there was little at the end of it. They will reflect on a couple of penalty claims, one for Phil Neville's handball and one for Tim Howard clattering into Joleon Lescott's back, rather than a succession of missed chances.

Moyes could also cite the moment, inside the first five minutes, when Denis Stracqualursi's downward header beat Joe Hart only for Lescott to clear on the line. That came from a straightforward corner and was the first indication that, even with Vincent Kompany back from suspension, City were susceptible.

They were punished after 59 minutes. Gibson has always had a powerful shot and when Landon Donovan laid a short pass into his path the crowd implored him to have a go. His strike took a decisive flick off Kompany to fly past Hart.

Teams:

Everton Howard, Neville, Hibbert, Heitinga, Baines, Donovan, Gibson, Fellaini, Drenthe (Baxter 78), Cahill, Stracqualursi (Vellios 88).

Subs Not Used: Mucha, Gueye, Barkley, Forshaw, Duffy.

Booked: Drenthe.

Goals: Gibson 60.

Man City Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott (Kolarov 68), Clichy, Barry (De Jong 86), Milner (Johnson 62), Silva, Aguero, Nasri, Dzeko.

Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Savic, Razak.

Booked: Kompany, Lescott.

Att: 29, 856

Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).


 


 


 

 

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