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Tuesday 23 September K.O. 19:45



City of Manchester Stadium | 24th March 2010 19:45

Man City v Everton

Everton's hopes for a top seven finish have been significantly boosted by a gutsy victory at Manchester City.

The 2-0 scoreline may mirror the outcome when the sides met at Goodison earlier in the season - but this win was earned in a very different manner.

Quality goals in each half from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta had to be earned - courtesy of a brave, fearless and determined performance from every man in an Everton jersey.

For long periods, Everton were asked to produce a resolute defensive display.

But not only did they stand up to the test put to them by Roberto Mancini's expensively assembled side.

They also showed killer instinct when they released their defensive shackles - displaying the class that has earmarked them as one of the top form sides in the division. Cahill's was a deft 33rd minute header and Arteta's a typically impressive 85th minute finish after a great counter-attack.

With results elsewhere going Everton's way - the Blues' chances of securing European qualification have been given a major lift with seven games remaining.

It was a cat-and-mouse opening to proceedings, with the home side launching into tackles with gusto and the Toffees passing the ball with greater efficiency. But chances were scarce, with Everton's first effort a quickfire attempt by Leon Osman from 18 yards that sailed high and wide on 15 minutes.

Everton celebrate the opening goal of the matchEverton celebrate the opening goal of the match

Micah Richards used all of his signficant frame to win a header that forced Tim Howard into his first stop of the evening minutes later as the game slowly began to open up.

Everton survived a scare in the 23rd minute when Carlos Tevez burst through and pushed the ball beyond Howard. He tumbled as he followed the ball's path but referee Peter Walton waved away claims the fall was as a result of a foul by Howard.

That penalty scare added heat to the atmosphere inside Eastlands as the home fans vented their frustration.

It led to a period of dominance for the home side. But Everton remained resolute, with brave block tackles from Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka during one hair-raising moment typifying the Toffees' efforts.

And having weathered that storm, Everton took the lead in the 33rd minute. Tim Cahill - netting at the end at which he scored his first ever goal for the Toffees - headed in to cap off a clever set-piece move.

The Aussie international was fouled by Gareth Barry wide on the left. With the home side expecting a cross into the box, Mikel Arteta pulled the ball back to Leighton Baines whose first time centre was deftly glanced in by Cahill.

And it could have been even better for the visitors at the interval, but a free-kick from Arteta 20 yards out just seconds before the half-time whistle failed to beat the wall.

With anxiety seeping into the home side's play, Everton were the more composed outfit in the early period of the second half. A great passing move on 49 minutes culminated with Osman curling a well-struck effort agonisingly wide of the post.

And another spell of scintilating passing minutes later ended in similar fashion - this time Cahill floating a cheeky effort wide.

City found their feet following the introduction of Roque Santa Cruz with half an hour remaining but they were largely restricted to efforts from distance that failed to trouble Howard.

However, it did lead to a nervous spell for Moyes' men as they defended in numbers as the contest entered its final quarter.

Phil Neville and David Moyes celebrate Mikel Arteta's goalPhil Neville and David Moyes celebrate Mikel Arteta's goal

The Goodison chief introduced Jack Rodwell in place of Louis Saha with 20 minutes to play to add further midfield presence.

The change helped Everton wrestle back a grip on the game. But chances to net a second goal were elusive as the contest entered the final 10 minutes.

And then came the moment of class which gave Everton the breathing space they craved.

Substitute Jack Rodwell burst down the right excellently before pulling back a low cross which Cahill dummied, allowing Arteta to sweep the ball beyond Shay Given.

With emotions running high, both Mancini and Moyes were dismissed from the technical area by referee Peter Walton following a confrontation on the touchline that underlined the importance of this contest to both sides.



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