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Ten-man Everton leave City title hopes in tatters
Published : 16 Mar 2013 17:17:11
Manchester City's faint hopes of retaining the Premier League title appear all but over after the champions crashed to a controversial 2-0 defeat against 10-man Everton on Saturday.
Roberto Mancini's side desperately needed a victory at Goodison Park to close the gap on leaders Manchester United to nine points.
But instead they produced the latest lacklustre display of a disappointing campaign as Everton shrugged off Steven Pienaar's second half dismissal to take the points thanks to a fine finish from Leon Osman in the first half and Nikica Jelavic's strike in the final seconds.
City had some cause for complaint as referee Lee Probert awarded the visitors a free-kick instead of a penalty in the closing stages after Carlos Tevez's shot struck Marouane Fellaini on the arm in the area.
Mancini's men are now faced with the prospect of falling 15 points behind United when the leaders hosted managerless Reading in Saturday's late match, while Everton remain in the hunt for a European berth after their fourth successive home win over City.
After their 3-0 home defeat to Wigan in the FA Cup quarter-finals, it was exactly the kind of response David Moyes was looking for from his Everton players and City simply had no match for their work-rate and desire.
Neither side was able to find early fluency, but the hosts carried the greater threat, with Darron Gibson thumping a free-kick straight into the wall and Seamus Coleman having a cross blocked wide after a clever run that took him past two defenders.
Coleman also clipped a shot over from just outside the area and City finally gave Jan Mucha something to do with a tame David Silva free-kick that flew straight to the Everton goalkeeper.
Tevez also forced a save from the Slovakian after drifting in from the left flank and hitting a firm shot while Edin Dzeko had a low effort saved.
Just after the half hour Everton took the lead with a strike of real quality as Coleman squared the ball to Osman, who thumped a shot into the top corner, with Joe Hart failing to move.
The home side were well on top now and after a surging run, Gibson clipped a cross into the area where Victor Anichebe lifted a shot just over the bar.
Tevez drove a shot narrowly wide as City looked for a response just before the interval.
City showed great purpose after the break and Aleksander Kolarov fired a shot well over the bar before sending over a corner that was flicked on by Gareth Barry but Matija Nastasic could not turn it in at the far post.
In the 61st minute Everton suffered a blow when Pienaar, who had already been booked, caught City midfielder Javi Garcia with a high challenge and was sent off.
Yet City were still struggling to make an impact despite their numerical superiority and when they did create opportunities, they were denied by Mucha.
Dzeko clipped a ball over the top for Tevez but his effort was blocked by the Everton goalkeeper, who got up to turn away James Milner's shot.
Sylvain Distin could have put the game beyond his former club but headed over the bar from a corner from Leighton Baines.
Mucha produced another fine save when Silva worked the ball right to Pablo Zabaleta but the City full-back saw his powerful effort blocked by the Everton goalkeeper.
Milner also had an effort deflected wide and City felt they should have had a penalty for the Fellaini handball.
With City pressing hard, Fellaini broke away in stoppage-time and Croatian striker Jelavic scored with a deflected effort.