Toffees hold slender first leg advantage over Citizens.
Everton 2 (1) – (0) 1 Manchester City
Funes Mori 45+1′ Navas 76′
Goodison Park, Liverpool
Everton hold a slender advantage in their Capital One Cup semi-final after a 2-1 first leg victory over Manchester City.
Ramiro Funes Mori’s second Toffees goal – on the stroke of half time – put Roberto Martinez’s side in front before Jesus Navas’ equaliser 15 minutes from time.
However, Romelu Lukaku’s 12th goal in 12 games just 50 seconds later restored the Blues’ lead on the night and in the tie.
There were concerns as Lukaku, Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman all sustained knocks towards the end of the encounter, but Everton held on to secure a much needed win.
Everton boss Martinez recalled Gerard Deulofeu and Joel Robles to his starting line-up, whilst Muhamed Besic was handed his first start since injuring his hamstring against Chelsea in September.
But it was the away side with appeared to enjoy the bulk of the possession in the early exchanges, despite being unable to profit from it.
Indeed, a lacklustre opening 20 minutes failed to produce any notable chances – with Kevin De Bruyne’s wayward effort from long range punctuating the mundane showing
With defences on top from open play, it appeared that each side’s best attempts at breaking the deadlock would come from set pieces – and both teams almost capitalised from such avenues.
Nicolas Otamendi powered a header wide of Robles’ left hand post just past the half hour mark, while Romelu Lukaku was inches away from converting Leighton Baines’ in-swinging free kick.
John Stones thought he had put the Toffees ahead on 37 minutes from another Baines dead-ball, but Funes Mori’s header back across goal – into the path of his fellow centre half -was from an offside position.
Sergio Aguero was then halted by Robles – the Argentinian’s snapshot parried before seeing his follow up blocked by Funes Mori.
And in an end-t0-end passage of play, Lukaku was played into a promising position by a superb Deulofeu ball. Unfortunately for the striker, Otamendi was on hand to snuff out the danger.
The Toffees weren’t to be denied, however, and on the stroke of half time they pounced.
Tom Cleverley’s corner evaded everyone in the box, with Ross Barkley driving the ball back towards goal.
Goalkeeper Willy Caballero could only parry his stinging effort, and Funes Mori was on hand – and onside – to slot into the empty net.
The goal appeared to galvanise Martinez’s charges as they started the second half in the ascendancy.
Lukaku was inches away from converting Barkley’s low centre, Besic saw a long range drive comfortably held and Barkley himself was denied twice by the quick reflexes of Caballero.
For City, Gael Clichy nodded wide of the upright under pressure from Coleman, while Aguero flashed an effort the wrong side of the post.
From their next attack, the visitors levelled.
A surging counter attack from an Everton corner saw Aguero expertly control a long ball from Fernandinho, before biding his time to play in the on-rushing Navas, who sidefooted across Robles with aplomb.
Their equaliser, however, was to be in vain as a minute later Everton restored their lead.
Barkley’s ball out wide to Gareth Barry was sent back into the mixer with a teasing cross from deep, where Lukaku – who just moments earlier was on the floor clutching his right ankle – was on hand to nod past Caballero in front of a delirious Gwladys Street.
The Belgian was replaced soon after, and the Blues were forced to finish the match a man lighter as Coleman hobbled from the field – Martinez having made all three substitutes.
It mattered not, though, as Everton managed to see the game out and head into the second leg with a slight edge of the Sky Blues.