By William Wood | In Match Reports - Away Games
Roberto Mancini endured his first defeat as Manchester City manager as his side succumbed to a 2-0 defeat away at Everton.
City went into the clash having lost only twice in the league all term – the lowest total in the Premier League – whilst Everton were showing signs of regaining the form that made them the next-in-line for a place among the top-four until this season.
Subsequently, the game began at a frantic pace, though the visitors were dealt an early blow when Roque Santa Cruz limped off to be replaced by Robinho.
Martin Petrov – one of a number of players enjoying somewhat of a revival under Mancini – cut in from the right and tested Tim Howard with a dipping effort that bounced just before the American.
The Eastlanders went close to breaking the deadlock with 13 minutes on the clock as Carlos Tevez knocked the ball down to Robinho, but the Brazilian’s half-volley flew high and wide.
At the other end Everton were looking dangerous from set-pieces, and Marouane Fellaini connecting with a cross to direct the ball goal-wards only for Shay Given to pinch it in the air.
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov then went close with a powerful volley which Given tipped away from goal superbly, but the Republic of Ireland stopper was beaten moments later as the Toffees seized the lead.
The hosts won a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area and Steven Pienaar stepped up to curl the ball round the wall and into the back of the net.
And things took a turn for the worse as City toiled up front, Micah tussling with Louis Saha and the linesman judging that the youngster had pulled the striker back.
Everton were duly awarded a penalty which was dispatched by the former Manchester United man, and Mancini’s task at half-time was a difficult one as his honeymoon period drew to a close.
Robinho did threaten to bring his side back into the game as he struck a shot which stung the palms of Howard, the last act from the mercurial forward who was substituted minutes later.
City’s heads were going as time ticked away and Fellaini thought he had added a third for Everton as he thumped a header towards goal, but Given did marvellously to tip the ball on to the bar.
And the game enjoyed no more points of action as City and Mancini’s run reached its conclusion, and the Italian wil set his task on picking his players back up for their Carling Cup clash with Manchester United on Tuesday.
Everton: Howard, Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Donovan, Fellaini, Pienaar, Bilyaletdinov, Cahill, Saha Subs: Nash, Vaughan, Forshaw, Coleman, Duffy, Baxter, Mustafi
Man City: Given, Zabaleta, Richards, Kompany, Garrido, Petrov, De Jong, Barry, Bellamy, Tevez, Santa Cruz Subs: Taylor, Onuoha, Sylvinho, Wright-Phillips, Robinho, Mwaruwari, Boyata
Everton: Pienarr (36’), Saha (45 – pen)
Man City: None