Manchester City 3 – 1 Everton
Roberto Martinez saw his side’s unbeaten run end at The Etihad Stadium yesterday courtesy of a Manchester City side desperate to bounce back from two defeats in a row, and a dubious choice of referee.
The afternoon started brightly for Everton, though, as the visitors looked the more composed side for the first fifteen minutes, and they were rewarded with a wonderful goal from Romelu Lukaku who has now scored four times in three games.
He was fed the ball outside the box with two defenders to beat which he did with ease before slamming the ball through Joe Hart to fire Everton into the lead. But it lasted just 94 seconds.
Everton were then denied a penalty as Nastasic, who had replaced an injured Vincent Kompany, pushed Lukaku inside the City boss only for the Everton striker’s claims to be waved away by referee Jon Moss.
One-time Everton target Alvaro Negredo latched onto the end of a smooth passing move from City and slotted past Tim Howard to prove the old adage that you’re never more vulnerable than when you’ve just scored. Negredo was also involved in City’s second just before the break as he argued with Seamus Coleman to drag the defensive line back and allow Sergio Aguero to fire City into the lead, although Tim Howard’s indecision meant he was poorly placed to save the shot from close range.
City started the second half in much the same way as Everton had started the first and established domination in midfield quickly thanks to David Silva’s reckless fouls going unpunished and some under parr performances from Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas while Lukaku tired and his work rate dropped. New signing James McCarthy stood out with his tireless running and Leon Osman did the best he could in a deeper holding role alongside the Irishman.
Then, the referee grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons and ensured that the Premier League will most likely relegate him for future fixtures for the second time this season. Moss has already been dropped to the Championship following an awful performance at Old Trafford which drew criticism as he helped Manchester United to a home win and will surely be sent back down the divisions after yesterday’s howler. Mark Halsey, commentating on BT Sport, said that Moss had “lost the plot” while pundits afterwards questioned whether Moss has ever been good enough to officiate at the top level.
Pablo Zabaletta made the most of a tap on the shoulder from struggling Seamus Coleman and flipped his body sideways as if he had been stabbed in the back and Moss pointed to the spot calling his earlier decision not to award Lukaku a penalty into even further question. Many watching the game felt that neither “foul” called for a penalty, but if one does, then surely the other has to as well and his earlier call could have changed the complexion of the game completely.
Tim Howard did well to get a hand to Aguero’s spot kick but it cannoned back off the post and hit the American on the head before nestling in the corner of the Everton net.
Arouna Kone, Darron Gibson and Gerard Deulofeu failed to reduce the deficit when they arrived from the bench, and Martinez was right to say that Everton’s own performance was not good enough to win the game afterwards. He was also right to say that his side were not helped by a hapless referee who should not be allowed to take charge in the Premier League again.
Man of the Match: James McCarthy whose tireless running and superb spoiling play stopped the scoreline being even worse in Martinez’s first taste of defeat at Everton.