On a miserable day in Manchester the grey clouds were lifted as Manchester City finally defeated Everton for the first time at the Etihad Stadium since January 2007. It was not the most alluring of games, with David Moyes’ team of chronic overachievers packing their defence in an attempt to frustrate Mancini’s men and stifle the dangerous Manchester City frontline. For a large part of the game Everton’s tactics of preventing City breaking through worked, Edin Dzeko was unable to assert himself and the Blues were unable to work their way through the ultra-defensive Everton and create meaningful chances.
The introduction of Mario Balotelli in the second half worked wonders as the volatile Italian took advantage of some good work by Sergio Aguero to side foot the ball past Tim Howard into the far corner of the goal to make it 1-0. It was a significant goal for Balotelli, a player who had failed to make an impact in recent weeks, and he finally showed his happiness by embracing his bemused manager Roberto Mancini on the touchline in celebration. It was a different Mario Balotelli that the fans saw in his brief appearance, the performance of someone who had finally realised that he could be part of something big if he wanted to. At 1-0 Everton were still in the game but never really looked like threatening City’s back five. With the substitution of the industrious James Milner, it was clear that a 1-0 would be just fine for Mancini as his side aimed to see the game through. With enough time left to grasp a point Everton became a bit more adventurous going forward by introducing Royston Drenthe and Louis Saha.
Jack Rodwell, who had done a sterling job in keeping David Silva out of the game up until the 89th minute, was powerless to prevent the magnificent Spaniard finding James Milner’s brilliantly timed run with a sublime pass that cut through the heart of the Everton defence. Capitalising on a mistake by Royston Drenthe, Silva burst into Everton’s half, spun between Rodwell and Jagielka and threaded the ball through to Milner who made it 2-0, ending any faint hopes Everton may have had of snatching a point.
Turning point: The introduction of Mario Balotelli, his goal was the much needed breakthrough and it helped City on their way.
Moment of the match: Despite being kicked black and blue by Everton players and being man-marked throughout of the game by Jack Rodwell, David Silva still managed to squeeze his way past two defenders before sliding a perfect ball through for James Milner. Four assists in his last three games. This young man is an absolute genius.