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v Crystal Palace

Sunday 21 September K.O. 16:00



Etihad Stadium | 5th October 2013 12:45 | Attendance - 47267

Manchester City v Everton

Everton relinquished their unbeaten status despite taking an early lead at Etihad Stadium through Romelu Lukaku's fourth goal in three league games.

The Blues headed to Eastlands looking to protect a record that had seen them survive as the only top-flight side without a defeat to their name.

And the omens looked good on 12 minutes as the loanee Lukaku ghosted past former Toffee Joleon Lescott before side-footing his team ahead.

Yet City, no doubt smarting from their humbling midweek defeat against Bayern Munich, had other ideas and first-half goals from Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero turned the game on its head before a pillow-soft Aguero penalty 20 minutes from time left Roberto Martinez's men with too much to do.

Barkley LescottRoss Barkley gets away from former Blues defender Joleon Lescott.

Martinez made just one change for the trip down the M62 - an enforced one which saw Steven Naismith step in for the ineligible loanee Gareth Barry.

City, on the other hand, carried a much different look to Wednesday's Champions League reverse as Manuel Pellegrini rung the changes.

The Chilean made six alterations in total, most notably dropping Samir Nasri to the bench and calling forward Negredo, scorer of the Citizens' stunning late consolation against the Germans.

But when the action got underway, it was another player among the goals who produced an early demonstration of his threat, Lukaku bundling through inside 60 seconds only to see Joe Hart race out quickly and halt the danger.

Yaya Toure - scorer of five goals in his last seven outings - predictably mustered City's retort three minutes later but found the in-form Tim Howard equal to his measured shot from the edge of the box.

An intriguing early battle then saw Aleksandar Kolarov curl the ball into the side netting from a free-kick harshly awarded against Leon Osman, before the same player headed over from David Silva's outswinging corner. 

But Everton were by no means on the back foot and the visitors duly took the lead on 12 minutes. And it was that man Lukaku.

A long punt forward came over the top from skipper Phil Jagielka and the 20-year-old simply side-stepped Lescott before steering the ball left-footed under the body of Hart.

Coleman NegredoSeamus Coleman and Alvaro Negredo have words.

But Everton's celebrations were short-lived. Within two minutes Silva had laid off Toure on the edge of the box, allowing the Ivorian to pick out Negredo and the Spaniard to sweep up possession and slot a low shot that just had the power to creep under Howard.

Seven minutes later, City were in again. But after the tricky Silva had picked out Aguero from a well-rehearsed free-kick routine, the Argentine somehow passed his effort a yard wide of the post.

The under-pressure Hart thought he'd come to the rescue when he brilliantly spurned Kevin Mirallas' header from a Ross Barkley cross on 25 minutes, but the Belgian, selected to start after shaking off an ankle knock suffered in Monday's win over Newcastle, had already been flagged offside.

With 11 minutes of a frantic half remaining, hobbling Vincent Kompany signalled his afternoon was up and made way for Serbian Matija Nastastic. City, however, weren't rocked. If anything, they cranked up the pressure.

And the Everton defence had already seen off a succession of attacks when a swift City move saw Aguero give the home side the lead.

Silva picked up possession in midfield, fed the ball down the inside right channel and the diminutive South American just about held his run before steering a fine shot across Howard and into the bottom corner.

Lukaku Goal CelebrateRomelu Lukaku celebrates firing Everton ahead.

Half-time did little to affect the momentum, but while City played a decent game of keep ball, 'shoot' bellowed down from the home stands as Everton stood firm and the hosts passed up a series of promising openings.

Silva then stumbled at the vital moment as another golden chance went begging before Pellegrini was again forced into a switch when a collision between Nastasic and Kolarov left the latter with a bloodied face from a nasty cut to the eye.

For differing reasons, Martinez was also weighing up his options and, on 63 minutes, he sent on Gibson and Gerard Deulofeu for Osman and Mirallas.

Yet, the swing remained with City. And, as Everton were forced back deeper and deeper, eventually arrived the moment which killed any hopes of a Blues comeback.

Zabaleta, rejoining the battle only moments after receiving attention to his own bloodied nose, charged into the box and fell to the ground as he tussled with Seamus Coleman.

Referee Jonathan Moss was convinced by the full-back's tumble and pointed to the spot - leaving Coleman to sport a look of utter bemusement.

Aguero stepped up to inflict the blow from 12 yards and managed it, though not without the aid of the post and Howard's shoulder.

It only rubbed salt into the Everton wounds and, 3-1 down, there was no way back, leaving Martinez to ponder the lessons of his first league defeat at the Goodison helm.



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