A narrow home win gives Everton the advantage after the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final
Roberto Martínez claimed just his second victory as a manager over Manchester City, taking a big step towards the Capital One Cup final.
The first half of the game started with Everton unable to get close to Manchester City for the opening stages. While Pellegrini's side had plenty of possession, Everton kept them at bay and restricted them to shooting from distance, with very little danger coming from many of the efforts.
Both Sergio Agüero and David Silva tried their luck, but came nowhere near troubling Joel Robles in the Everton goal.
Everton found the net on a number of occasions in that opening half, but only one of the goals actually counted: Stones had the ball in the back of the net in the 36th minute, but both Ramiro Funes Mori and Gareth Barry were offside at the back post, with both of them getting touches on it before it came back across to John Stones at the far post who tapped in.
Some good skills and close control in the bildup to another chance just five minutes later from Gerard Deulofeu saw him slip a lovely ball through to Romelu Lukaku, but the Belgian knew he was offside and perhaps half-heartedly slotted it between the legs of Willy Caballero in the Manchester City goal.
It was third time lucky however, as a powerful drive from Ross Barkley on the edge of the Manchester City area was saved by Caballero, but it was only parried out into the box, where Funes Mori was the most alert player in the vicinity as he tapped in from close range.
Image: Jon Super / AP/Press Association Images
They took that lead into the break, and Manchester City responded by making a change at half-time and another shortly afterwards, introducing Demichelis for Mangala and Jesus Navas for Fabian Delph, who had gotten himself booked early in the second period.
Navas' impact was almost instant, as he was involved in strong claims for a penalty a few minutes later when he appeared to have his ankles clipped after a nice cut back to create some space. Those claims were waved away by the referee, but he wasn't to be denied and was on hand to score Manchester City's equaliser in the the 75th minute.
After defending a period of sustained pressure from Everton in their own area, Fernandinho eventually hit a long clearance from a corner, catching most of the opposition defenders up the pitch. Agüero showed great composure to hold the ball up while Navas streaked down the other wing, and played a simple ball through to the Spaniard who beat his compatriot in the Everton goal.
Image: Martin Rickett / PA Wire/Press Association Images
Things didn't stay level for long however, as just two minutes and six seconds later, Gareth Barry whipped a dangerous ball into the box which found Lukaku in a great position, having slipped between the two center-halves at the back for Manchester City. He made no mistake when nodding home, but pulled up injured immediately afterwards, which will be a worrying sight for his manager, given the form he's in at the moment.
Image: Jon Super / AP/Press Association Images
Much like their Merseyside neighbours Liverpool, Everton will be left counting the cost of the victory after a number of injuries. Lukaku's clear discomfort wasn't the only blow, as Seamus Coleman couldn't finish the game and limped off to the dressing room with an ice pack strapped to his calf, leaving them with just 10 men on the field. Tom Cleverley too was injured and had to be replaced at half-time, meaning space will be at a premium in the treatment room at Goodison.
Speaking after the match, he highlighted how important the Belgian striker was to their side: "Well I think the stats are there to back any sort of assessment you want of Romelu. In our eyes, he's always been the perfect striker for our team and our football club which is why we invested so heavily in him. He wants to be the best in the world and you can see the way that he's focused and wants to help the team and take responsibility".
Martinez will also take note of a standout performance from Muhamed Besic, who looked very strong in the tackle and made a number of smart decisions with his passing, in contrast to his midfield partner Ross Barkley.
His decisions were poor on a number of occasions and his passing accuracy was off, but the Bosnian showed great composure in the closing stages to take the ball up the pitch and calm the side down when they were missing a man through injury, as well as making a number of important tackles.
Image: Mike Egerton / EMPICS Sport
For Manuel Pellegrini, it's another disappointing result away from home, with Manchester City struggling on their travels in the Premier League, winning just one in the last seven.
He believed that the result would have been different if not for some key decisions by the referees that didn't go in favour of his side. While Funes Mori was onside to tap home from Barkely's shot, Pellegrini pointed to the position of Lukaku, who he believed was interfering with play, stating "it's unbelievable that the referee or the linesman didn't see that clear offside".
Meanwhile, the penalty claim didn't escape his notice either, as he added that there should have been no doubt: "It's not what I feel, it's a foul inside the box, he took the legs of Jesus in front of the referee".
With the second leg to come on January 27th, and the two sides yet to meet in the Premier League between now and then, neither manager was counting their chickens before they hatched, but it will be Martínez who is the more worried as he will need to account for the loss of some key players during a very busy period.