Everton v Manchester City
Everton signed off at Goodison for the season with a return to European football sealed, despite being on the wrong end of a five-goal thriller.
Edin Dzeko struck twice as Manchester City became only the third team to record an away win at the Blues' home season.
Everton looked to have made the best possible start when Ross Barkley curled home a magnificent 25-yard strike after just 10 minutes but City – in need of all three points if they were to keep the destiny of the Premier League title in their own hands – struck back through Sergio Aguero.
Then Bosnia international Dzeko took over, nodding in James Milner’s cross before adding his second after the break.
The Blues did manage to bring it back to 3-2 when Romelu Lukaku headed in Leighton Baines’s centre but try as they might, Everton just could not find an elusive third of their own.
Roberto Martinez welcomed back skipper Phil Jagielka, adding him to a back three alongside John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz.
Everton carved out the game’s first real chance, albeit a difficult one. Good work from Baines down the left saw him pick out but a swivelling Steven Naimsith could only fire wide.
City responded but Javi Garcia could only direct a tame header straight at Tim Howard from a corner, then Pablo Zabaleta cleared the cross bar with a drive after being expertly found by Aguero.
But Everton would go straight up the other end and open the scoring in sublime fashion.
Leon Osman played the ball out to Baines, who in turn found Naismith roaming in space just outside the box. The Scot’s first-time lay off was perfectly weighted for Barkley who produced a stunning curling shot from 25 yards that looped and dipped over Joe Hart to hand the Blues a 10th-minute lead.
Barkley was at it again minutes later, bursting into the box and seemingly brought down by Vincent Kompany. While Goodison howled for a penalty City broke up the other end and Aguero thumped a shot inside Howard’s near post to haul City level with 21 minutes on the clock.
That equaliser was harsh on Everton who had enjoyed plenty of possession after Barkley’s goal but unperturbed they set about trying to regain the lead.
A brief stoppage in play saw Aguero go to ground with an injury that forced him off, with Brazil midfielder Fernandinho his replacement.
But it was Aguero’s strike partner Dzeko who would put the visitors ahead just before half time.
Everton were enjoying the better of the possession but when Milner broke free down the right, his cross allowed the Bosnian striker to rise and nod past Howard.
Back came Everton but Lukaku could only blaze over the top following Stones' cross, and with that the first 45 minutes drew to a close.
The home support needed a lift early in the second half and through Barkley they got. Picking up possession on the edge of his own box, the youngster drove forward, leaving white shirts in his wake, closed in on the City box and slipped a pass into the feet of Naismith. The Scot controlled well but rolled the ball agonisingly wide of the target.
The miss would prove costly – City went straight up the other end and made it 3-1 through Dzeko. Nasri created a hint of space down the left and played the ball to the forward who stabbed home his second of the afternoon.
That prompted the hosts to lay siege to the City goal, with Barkley orchestrating things. Patience has long been part of Roberto Martinez’s philosophy and home fans were rewarded for their own on 65 minutes.
Baines took aim from the left and delivered a delightful ball that was begging to be put in, and Lukaku did the honours with a stooping header.
On came Gerard Deulofeu for Jagielka as Martinez sent on attacking reinforcements to try to find an equaliser.
The goal lifted the home crowd, and they helped the Blues set about finding a third.
City however were by no means allowing Everton to have it all their own way. Zabaleta forced a good save out of Howard following a fluid attacking move down the right.
On came Aiden McGeady to see if he could rescue a point for the home side, Osman making way, but still City held firm.
Deulofeu almost produced a sensational leveller when he wove his way through the City rearguard but his effort went into the side-netting.
And with that, despite Everton camped in the City half, the minutes dwindled down and the visitors held on for the three points.
Defeats for Tottenham and Manchester United in the early kick-offs had already ensured that, bar a 20-goal swing in the final weekend, Everton would be guaranteed to finish fifth and clinch Europa League football.
The result therefore was secondary and the team performed their traditional lap of appreciation to thank the fans for their support all season.
Next stop, Hull City. Then, Europe.