Premier League: Manchester City defeat Everton 3-2 to go top of the table
Last Updated: 04/05/14 8:03am
Edin Dzeko: Scored twice to help Manchester City go top of the Premier League
Manchester City grasped control of the title race as they came from behind to beat Everton 3-2 and move to the top of the table with two games remaining.
Best of the match
- Man of the match: Joe Hart - Made some vital saves throughout the game to see City over the line when the rest of the side were struggling to keep their concentration. Organised his defence well and helped keep his side concentrate in what was a strangely sedated performance by Manuel Pellegrini's men.
- Goal of the match: Ross Barkley may have ended up on the losing side but he provide the game's highlight with a stunning first-time shot into the top corner from 20 yards which left Joe Hart with no chance, after a neat Everton move.
- Save of the match: Both goalkeepers gave an excellent account of themselves throughout the match, with Tim Howard saving well after Pablo Zabaleta had gone clean through on goal, but Joe Hart came to the aid of a lacklustre City throughout. Hart's fingertip save was the prime example with the keeper diving full stretch to his left to deny Steven Naismith and keep City in charge.
- Talking point: Manchester City injuries - With Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure going off with injuries questions will be raised whether City can go on to win their remaining games without their star men after what has been an already inconsistent season. The only positive point is that David Silva enjoyed a lively cameo following his second-half substitution, but will he be a driving force for City in the same sense as Toure has been?
There was a subdued atmosphere for long periods at Goodison Park as a home victory would do Merseyside rivals Liverpool a massive favour, but Everton needed to win to realistically keep their hopes of UEFA Champions League football alive and they took the lead in the 11th minute when Ross Barkley curled a sublime shot into the top corner.
However, Sergio Aguero beat Tim Howard at his near post to equalise after 22 minutes and Edin Dzeko's well-directed header from James Milner's cross made it 2-1 just before half-time.
In a crucial period at the start of the second half, Joe Hart saved brilliantly from Steven Naismith and Dzeko struck City's third moments later.
Romelu Lukaku headed in midway through the second half to set up a tense finale but City held on to go above Liverpool on goal difference with a couple of home games to follow, whilst also ensuring that Arsenal will finish fourth ahead of Everton.
Everton had looked on course to upset the odds when Leighton Baines and Steven Naismith combined down the left on 11 minutes to tee up Barkley, who hit a sublime first-time shot from 25 yards which flew past Hart and into the top corner.
All the pre-match chatter may have been about Evertonians being quite happy with a visiting win but the way Goodison Park celebrated suggested otherwise.
The game opened up with Yaya Toure curling over after cutting inside on his right foot while Barkley's dangerous dribble into the penalty area was halted only by a superbly-timed tackle by Vincent Kompany.
All the intimations from Aguero were that he could not continue with an apparent groin problem, but while City were readying his replacement Toure slid through an inviting pass and the Argentine's predatory instincts took over as he skipped past Antolin Alcaraz to beat Howard all-too easily at his near post.
The outcome of hasty discussions on the touchline was to leave Aguero on but he lasted just five minutes before being replaced by Fernandinho, which actually improved City in a way as it pushed Toure further forward but gave Pellegrini's side greater dominance in midfield.
Everton switched from their experimental 3-4-2-1 formation to 4-1-4-1 to try to combat the loss of control but whether the changes affected the defence or not Dzeko's free header for City's second - after he had almost beaten Howard at his near post again - came far too easily for the Bosnian.
How the hosts wished their own striker was as sharp in front of goal as Lukaku, having not scored in four games, ballooned the last chance of the first half high into the Gwladys Street End.
Barkley remained Everton's one driving force and a powerful run from halfway just after the break set up Naismith one-on-one with Hart only for the goalkeeper to tip his shot around the post.
It was a pivotal moment as City went straight down the other end and Fernandinho picked out Samir Nasri who crossed for Dzeko to sidefoot home.
Barkley continued to lead the charge, but unfortunately many of his team-mates were not on the same wavelength.
Lukaku seemed so out-of-sorts he appeared to be no threat to City's defence but he came alive in the last 30 minutes.
He popped up in the 65th minute to head home a Baines cross to make it 3-2, and if Everton needed any more incentive there followed the sight of Toure heading for the bench to be replaced by Aleksandar Kolarov.
Roberto Martinez replaced Phil Jagielka, making his first appearance for 10 weeks, with forward Gerard Deulofeu as they went for the win to keep alive their Champions League hopes but Howard kept them in the game by saving from Pablo Zabaleta.
Deulofeu's weaving run and shot was deflected into the side-netting and with it went their faint hopes of a top-four finish.
Barclays Premier League
|12||West Ham United||38||47|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||38||44|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||30|
Everton v Man City
"Sensational" Kun has given Manchester City confidence, and the Argentine can cause Everton major problems on Saturday.
England defender Phil Jagielka was relieved to make his comeback for Everton in the 3-2 defeat to Manchester City.
Vincent Kompany has insisted that Manchester City will not get carried away about climbing to the top of the table.
- Martinez takes the positives
- Pellegrini: A really big step
- Baines admits United stress
- Nasri surprised at position
- Demichelis: It's in our hands
- No fears for Pellegrini
- Manuel's mission
- Osman warning for Man City
- Pellegrini wary of Everton
- Martinez targets 75 points
- Martinez: Liverpool irrelevant
- Martinez: Jagielka to return
- Baines boost for Everton