Man City loses at Everton as title bid slips away
Manchester City's faint hopes of catching Manchester United in the Premier League title race took another heavy hit with a 2-0 loss at Everton on Saturday.
City went behind in the 32nd minute though Leon Osman's bending strike and the champions couldn't take advantage of Everton being reduced to 10 men on the hour when Steven Pienaar was sent off.
Carlos Tevez, James Milner and Pablo Zabaleta were denied by a succession of saves from Everton goalkeeper Jan Mucha.
City was aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty in the 86th when Tevez's shot was blocked by Marouane Fellaini's hand inside the area, only for the referee to award a free kick just outside instead.
Nikica Jelavic secured the win in stoppage time by completing a speedy counterattack by curling in Everton's second goal.
City is 15 points behind United after the leaders' won 1-0 at home against Reading later Saturday.
City manager Roberto Mancini was described as being too ''angry'' to address the media after the setback.
''He is taking stock of the situation and does not want to say things that would get him in trouble,'' assistant manager David Platt said. ''He is angry about everything in general. We got outworked by Everton, but there is no doubt in my mind about the handball.''
City's prospects were hit before the game when key midfielder Yaya Toure was ruled out with a migraine.
A fan dressed in a full City kit then tried to join the team's warm-up before the game, but he was arrested for pitch encroachment and it was Javi Garcia who took Toure's place.
Everton was the team showing urgency early on as the hosts demonstrated a hunger and desire they failed to show last week in a loss in the FA Cup against Wigan.
City's players were slow to respond and thought they had been punished in the 13th when Kevin Mirallas lashed the ball into the net after Osman returned a clearance into the visitors' box, but a flag had been raised for offside.
City finally started to stir with some neat moves leading to a couple of chances for Edin Dzeko and one for Tevez but Mucha was not seriously tested.
And it was Everton which took the lead.
Osman, whose form earned another England call-up this week, took a square ball from Seamus Coleman 25 yards out and struck a first-time shot which swerved away from goalkeeper Joe Hart.
As Everton continued to force the pace and extend the lead, Fellaini appealed in vain for a penalty after tangling with Matija Nastasic in the area and Victor Anichebe fired over.
City was stretched again when Hart could only palm Coleman's cross as far as Mirallas, whose header was deflected over.
The start of the second half was much quieter by comparison but City did show some urgency with Aleksandar Kolarov forcing John Heitinga to hack away a cross in the area.
Everton went close again when Osman had a volley deflected over from a corner and the feisty atmosphere of the first half returned when Pienaar caught Garcia and was shown his second yellow card.
City tried to make its extra man count and almost broke through when Tevez stretched to volley at Mucha. The ball rolled invitingly across goal for Milner but Mucha recovered quickly and threw his body in the way as the winger looked certain to equalize.
Everton had no intention of sitting back and was close to a second when Distin headed narrowly over from Leighton Baines' corner.
City pieced together another good move but Mucha again spread himself well to deny Zabaleta after David Silva had found him in space on the right.
City continued to press and had an opportunity when Tevez's shot struck Fellaini's arm in the box, but a free kick outside the area was awarded and Kolarov struck the wall.
Everton rode out the storm and broke away in stoppage time through Fellaini, who rolled wide for Jelavic to beat Hart with a deflected shot.