Balotelli, Milner score as City beats Everton 2-0

Manchester City needed late goals by substitutes Mario Balotelli

and James Milner to beat stubborn Everton 2-0 and keep the pressure

on fierce rival Manchester United at the top of the Premier League

on Saturday.

Balotelli was introduced by City manager Roberto Mancini in the

60th and the Italy striker made a quick impact, latching onto

Sergio Aguero’s layoff eight minutes later and finding the bottom

corner via a deflection from Everton defender Phil Jagielka.

Milner wrapped up the win in the 89th, running onto David

Silva’s pass and slipping a low finish past goalkeeper Tim

Howard.

City’s victory – its fifth in six league matches this season –

ended a run of four straight home defeats to Everton, which has

been the hosts’ bogey team in recent years.

”We never have an easy game against Everton,” City captain

Vincent Kompany said. ”But with the quality we have, it was just a

matter of patience. Today, we did exactly what we needed to

do.”

Everton, which started the day in sixth place, was threatening

an all too familiar shut-out at Eastlands before Balotelli’s

goal.

Buoyed by a run of seven wins in the last eight league games

against City, David Moyes’ side was successful in frustrating the

hosts with its ultra-defensive tactics and physical approach that

brought three bookings in the opening half hour.

One of those yellow cards was given to Jack Rodwell, who did a

stirling man-to-man marking job on Silva, often the instigator of

City’s attacking moves.

”We’ve seen other teams getting beat heavily by Manchester City

– we wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case and I thought for

long spells we did a good job,” Moyes said.

City only had fleeting glimpses of Everton’s goal in the first

half with Aguero skying a shot over the bar in the 17th before

bringing a diving save out of United States goalkeeper Tim Howard

in the 35th.

Everton succeeded in dampening the atmosphere early on but was

rarely an attacking threat itself, with Australia midfielder Tim

Cahill – playing as a lone striker – heading over Seamus Coleman’s

cross in the 54th with the team’s only genuine chance.

Balotelli, who scored in City’s 2-0 victory over Birmingham in

the third round of the League Cup on Wednesday, replaced the

ineffective Edin Dzeko in the 60th in a substitution that made all

the difference.

Moments after Howard parried away a fierce shot from Samir

Nasri, Balotelli met Aguero’s layoff at the edge of the area with a

sidefooted effort that took a slight deflection off the leg of the

sprawling Jagielka and span into the bottom corner of the goal.

With Everton now having to attack, City found more space going

forward and Silva almost made it 2-0 when he thrashed a low shot

against the post in the 71st.

Howard then had to turn aside a powerful curling effort from

Yaya Toure in the 84th but City wasn’t to be denied a second.

Milner surged onto Silva’s sublime through-ball and finished by

shooting underneath Howard.

”It was hard to win this game,” Mancini said. ”We had a lot

of shots and we were unlucky in the first half. The second half we

got better.”