0-1 (Yakubu 30), 0-2 (Lescott 37)
- Match reports
- 25 February 2008 00:00
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
After the euphoria of the win at Old Trafford, City were brought back down to earth with a jolt by a battle-hardened and well drilled Everton side. Once the visitors had pounced at a couple of set-pieces before the break, City had too much to do and the fact that they did not get a shot on target until the 85th minute told its own story. Martin Petrov was shown the red card for petulantly kicking Leon Osman in stoppage time.
Sven-Goran Eriksson stuck by the side that started the derby, but strengthened the bench by including Elano & Vedran Corluka, both back from suspension. Nery Castillo was also back in the frame for the first time since his nasty shoulder injury, sustained in the FA Cup replay against West Ham just over a month ago.
There was a surprise from the visitors, with no Arteta and Johnson on the bench.
Toffees' captain Phil Neville received his customary warm welcome from the City faithful, while Benjani was welcomed like a returning hero on his home debut!
Just five minutes had gone when Yakubu went close, ghosting in front of Dunne to get to a Pienaar cross, but a combination of the skipper and Joe Hart conceded a corner. From the next one moments later, Leon Osman shot goalwards and the ball struck Micah Richards on the arm as he slipped to the ground but referee Rob Styles waved away Everton's claims for a penalty.
On 12 minutes Didi Hamann whipped in a testing ball towards Vassell which he was just a fraction underneath as Howard came to claim.
Benjani looked lively and was showing the home fans the strength and guile he had immediately brought to City a fortnight ago. He was just short of really threatening Howard on 20 minutes, and shortly after he was not far from connecting after Michael Ball had worked his way into the area.
Pienaar went close on 28 minutes, his curled shot from the edge of the area deflecting off Onuoha and hitting the post with Hart beaten.
But the visitors did not have too long to wait to take the lead as two minutes later Tim Cahill threaded a clever pass across the face of goal towards Yakubu, who had eluded Dunne to tap home the simplest of chances from close range. The City defence appealed to the linesman, but replays showed the Nigerian to be just onside.
Worse was to follow on 37 minutes when City went two down. Following a corner, Lee Carsley swung a cross right over the area from the left, Joe Hart came partially out to claim but was caught in no man's land when Joleon Lescott headed the ball back across and over him into the opposite corner.
With the Blues desperately needing to get a toehold in the game, Elano replaced Hamann at the interval. Everton still had the better chances though, Neville shooting just wide from range and Cahill being denied by a last-ditch effort from Richards as he stretched to get to a Yakubu pass.
As the rain poured down City finally came to life, Richards causing panic as he jumped to a Ball cross. Howard missed it but the ball rolled down Jagielka's back and luckily the former Sheffield United man hooked it to safety.
The midpoint of the half saw Johnson replace Manuel Fernandes, himself a substitute but now hampered by an injury, and Felipe Caicedo come on for his home debut in place of Stephen Ireland. Richards did well to win a free kick just afterwards, with Dunne heading Petrov's deadball cross just over Howard's bar. Elano tried his luck on 73 minutes but his shot skimmed the surface safely wide of the right hand post.
City were lucky to keep it at 0-2 with 12 minutes left, firstly when Richards looked to have handled the ball inside the area, and then when Hart reacted smartly at a quickly taken free kick, punching Carsley's fierce drive around the post.
City finally managed a shot on target with six minutes left, but Howard pushed away Castillo's well-hit low drive and Caicedo was denied on the rebound by Jagielka. Martic Petrov also made the American keeper work just before the 90 minutes were up but this time it was a much easier save to make.
Sadly the Bulgarian let himself down badly in stoppage time, firstly trying to kick Yakubu after losing possession and then connecting with Osman again after the ball had moved away from him. Rob Styles did not miss this one and showed him a straight red card, capping a night to forget for City.