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Manchester City moved back into the top four of the Barclays Premier League with a convincing 3-1 win over Everton on Saturday.
Manuel Pellegrini's team headed into the game on the back of consecutive defeats against Aston Villa and Bayern Munich, while Everton were looking for their fourth win in five matches, and the visitors made the perfect start when on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku scored the opener. City quickly turned things around, however, with Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero overturning the deficit before half-time.
A superb home performance was rounded off on 69 minutes when the unfortunate Tim Howard deflected Aguero’s penalty into his own net after parrying it on to the post as Roberto Martinez’s side lost in the league for the first time this season.
City made five changes to the side beaten 3-1 by Bayern on Wednesday, Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov replacing Micah Richards and Gael Clichy in defence, while James Milner, David Silva and Negredo came in for Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko. Everton were without Gareth Barry, the on-loan midfielder ineligible to play against his parent club, with Steven Naismith taking his place in the starting XI.
The hosts did the most of the early pressing as Yaya Toure forced a good save from Howard with a curling effort, before Kolarov fired narrowly wide from a free-kick. However, Everton took the lead on the counter-attack after 16 minutes when Lukaku netted his third goal in two games, the Belgian collecting a long ball from Phil Jagielka before turning inside Joleon Lescott and slotting the ball under Joe Hart.
Everton's advantage lasted just over a minute, though, City levelling as Negredo found the net from close range following an incisive pass from Toure.
City might have seized the initiative midway through the first half, Aguero shooting wide at the end of a well-worked free-kick between Toure and Silva, and the hosts suffered a blow 12 minutes before the break when Vincent Kompany, who made his return to fitness last month, was forced off with an injury.
The hosts continued to push forward as they looked to complete the turnaround, Aguero spurning two good chances in the closing stages of the opening period. But the Argentina striker was not to be denied and put City in front a minute before the interval with a precise right-foot finish at the near post after latching on to a pass from Silva.
Pellegrini was forced into another change in the early stages of the second half as Kolarov was replaced by Clichy after sustaining a cut in a collision with team-mate Matija Nastasic. City nonetheless dictated the play in the second half and were handed an opportunity to finish the game off when Seamus Coleman brought down Zabaleta inside the area. Aguero did not pass it up, even if his penalty only found the bottom corner after deflecting off both a post and goalkeeper Howard.
James McCarthy went close with a header from point-blank range but Everton struggled to mount a response as the Barclays Premier League's last unbeaten run came to an end.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: "I am very pleased by the character the team showed today. We really needed this victory because at the start of the game we were five points behind Arsenal and it is important to continue wining here at home.
"Equalising immediately was important but more important was the character, playing against Everton – the only unbeaten team in the league. After a defeat on Wednesday it was important for me to see how the players reacted after that defeat.
"We had at least four or five clear chances to score and I don't remember Everton having too many chances to score, so I don't think the difference between the two teams was the penalty."
Everton manager Roberto Martinez: "We made it a really open game and to score the first goal was important. Then you have to be very superior when the calls are not going for you. Unfortunately, on the day, we didn't have that luck that we needed.
"We allowed the performance to go, we could have played a lot better, more clever; to concede three goals we are extremely disappointed with that."
|12 Jan 2014||v Newcastle (A)|
|27 Oct 2013||v Chelsea (A)|
|29 Jan 2014||v Spurs (A)|
|18 Jan 2014||v Cardiff (H)|
|03 May 2014||v Everton (A)|
|16 Apr 2014||v Sunderland (H)|