City’s super subs sink Toffees

As always, City were finding it sticky going in their Premier

League clash against the Toffees. Balotelli’s introduction after an

hour changed all that, the Italian’s shot flying in off Phil

Jagielka to put the Blues on the way to a precious home win that

was sealed by Milner in the final minute. There could not be a

greater contrast between City’s vast wealth and the relative

hand-to-mouth existence of their north-west neighbours. Yet Everton

are a stoic bunch and despite enduring another summer of fiscal

austerity, manager David Moyes has engineered a decent start. And,

of course, there was that amazing record against City to protect.

Since Sheikh Mansour completed his Blues buy-out in 2008, the clubs

have met on six occasions. Everton have won five, including the

last four, proving money cannot buy you everything. Moyes’

masterplan this time was to send Jack Rodwell scurrying around

after danger-man David Silva all afternoon. It was a task Rodwell

stuck to gamely, and clearly Silva did not like, even though he

responded in textbook fashion, moving himself next to Leighton

Baines, in theory creating a huge hole for the remainder of City’s

midfield to fill. That they did not manage it was in part due to

the cussedness of Phil Neville and Seamus Coleman, who tackled

anything that moved, and part due to lacklustre displays from Yaya

Toure and Samir Nasri, neither of whom imposed themselves on the

contest. Indeed, there were only 10 minutes of the opening period

remaining when Tim Howard was forced into his first save. It was a

good one though, the American parrying away Sergio Aguero’s

goalbound curling shot despite the not inconsiderable frame of Edin

Dzeko closing in. Howard also denied Gareth Barry shortly

afterwards as City began to turn the screw, although by the time

referee Howard Webb blew his whistle for half-time, Everton were

showing more attacking intent than they had done since the opening

moments, when they were actually on top. The hosts came close to

opening their account straight after the restart when former City

skipper Sylvain Distin rather unconvincingly combined with Howard

to turn Nasri’s dangerous cross behind. Mancini’s men were unable

to maintain the pressure though, so with an hour gone, the Italian

turned to Balotelli, ahead of deposed skipper Carlos Tevez. A very

astute move it turned out to be too. Everton were still

reorganising following the exit of Tim Cahill, who had earlier

guided a header just over but then came off worst in a challenge

with Vincent Kompany that led to him becoming the fourth visiting

player booked when the Italian struck. Aguero was the architect,

crabbing in from the right flank before rolling the ball into

Balotelli’s path as he found his own route into the penalty area

blocked. Without a league goal since February, but becalmed after a

pre-season row with his manager in the United States and a scorer

in the midweek Carling Cup win over Birmingham, the Italy striker

took aim, benefiting from a slight deflection off Jagielka as the

ball nestled in the far corner. The 21-year-old immediately

sprinted off to his manager to celebrate, any irritation that has

at times existed between the pair currently not in evidence. Within

a couple of minutes, Silva had almost made it two, drilling a low

shot against the base of Howard’s left-hand post, the Everton

keeper knowing he was getting nowhere near it. Howard was able to

reach Balotelli’s next effort, a stinging shot from the edge of the

area that was heading for the bottom corner. The Toffeemen were on

the back foot though and only an offside flag prevented them

conceding a second after Silva had tapped home Balotelli’s cross.

Milner eventually secured the win, racing onto Silva’s throughball

before keeping his nerve to beat Howard in the final minute.