Everton v Man City
Everton have increased their unbeaten record in the Premier League to seven matches with an impressive 2-0 victory over big-spenders Manchester City.
The points were sealed in the opening half courtesy of an equisite free-kick from Steven Pienaar and a confident penalty from Louis Saha. But it could have been more, with Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini both denied by the woodwork in the second period.
The clash was a memorable one for Evertonians and included a home debut for on-loan American Landon Donovan - as well as a clean sheet to halt the goal-scoring form of City's Carlos Tevez.
Lucas Neill was denied a final game as an Everton player, with Sylvain Distin returning to the back-four - slotting into his regular centre-half position alongside John Heitinga. Former Blue Joleon Lescott was not among the travelling party.
The game started with a minute of applause in honour of former Blue Alex Parker who passed away last week, the attack on the Togo national team in Angola, and the victims of the Haitian earthquake disaster.
City - who occupied fourth spot in the table going in to the game - arrived at Goodison on the back of a 4-1 win over Blackburn Rovers courtesy of Micah Richards and a Tevez hat-trick earlier this week.
The Argentine international proved problematic for the Blues at the whistle, but City were dealt an early blow as Roque Santa Cruz limped-off just minutes into the game - Robinho his replacement from the bench.
The first shot of the game fell for the visitors after nine minutes. Marouane Fellaini caught unawares 25 yards from goal only for Martin Petrov's strike to be parried by Tim Howard.
Everton responded immediately as Donovan's neat combination with Steven Pienaar allowed the American to provide a cross in the direction of Bilyaletdinov, although the Russian's header was collected comfortably by Shay Given.
A crafty combination from Donovan and Louis Saha on 20 minutes allowed the American room for a close-range strike, but his attempt to score his first for Everton with an intended chip over the keeper flew inches wide of the post.
Donovan again - much to the delight of the roaring Evertonians - had a follow up shot seconds later, only to watch it bounce hard off the City defence.
Hungry to snatch the advantage before the break, Everton's composure didn't fail to impress the Goodison faithful, and included an outstanding contribution of headers and tackles from Fellaini, who was imperious in midfield.
Everton were impressing as an attacking force, with Bilyaletdinov denied a certain goal by a stunning finger tip save from the excellent Shay Given.
The Belgian, Bilyaletdinov and Saha all had great efforts in the first period, and the Frenchman's determination was rewarded with a free-kick right on the edge of the box after a hefty tackle from Micah Richards 10 minutes before the break.
South African Pienaar was the man to take it, and his deft right-footed effort crept in past the left-hand post to put the Blues deservedly in front.
Mancini's men saught a reply before the break and on the brink of half-time Goodison gasped as a Craig Bellamy cross missed a lurking Tevez by inches in the goal mouth. But the Blues responded straight away as Saha charged at goal in added time. He was tugged back as he burst into the box by City defender Richards. The referee did not hesitate in awarding the Blues with a spot-kick despite City's appeals.
The Frenchman stepped up and calmly converted. The Blues went in to a deafening reception from the crowd, and a well-deserved two-goal advantage.
The second half opened with a brutal collision between Pienaar and Richards, luckily for Everton the South African was unhurt.
Mancini introduced Benjani in place of Petrov for the second period, and his second substitution followed with the departure of Robinho on the hour to make way for Shaun Wright-Phillips. And the winger was welcomed with a solid tackle from Phil Neville on a City counter-attack. Everton's devensive display certainly didn't disappoint, as Seamus Coleman's fresh legs replaced Distin with twenty minutes on the clock.
Bilyaletdinov and Cahill both persisted with chances, but the entertainment came again from Fellaini whose impressive form continued with a forceful header at Given. Cahill came even closer with his headed effort in the final ten, this time his attempt rattling the crossbar.
Penalty-scorer Saha left the field to a huge applause from the stands when he made way for James Vaughan for the final five minutes, but the attention didn't sway from Fellaini, whose performance was outstanding from start to finish.
Donovan received the same reception as he ended his first home appearance for the late introduction of academy striker Jose Baxter, would had no time to make an impact as the referee Andre Marriner called time.
Saturday's win saw the Blues rise to 10th in the league table, and also proved solid preparation for next-week's FA Cup opponents, the in-form Birmingham City.