Tuesday 21 November 2017

Mancini feels the pressure as Toffees rock City

Man City 0
Everton 2

Man City boss Roberto Mancini grapples with Everton manager David Moyes on the sidelines before both were sent to the stands during the Toffees 2-0 victory. Photo: Getty Images
Man City boss Roberto Mancini grapples with Everton manager David Moyes on the sidelines before both were sent to the stands during the Toffees 2-0 victory. Photo: Getty Images
Shay Given shows his frustration after being booked last night. Photo: Getty Images

Mark Ogden

Roberto Mancini and David Moyes were sent to the stands by referee Peter Walton after the Manchester City manager sparked a touchline confrontation with his Everton counterpart moments after Mikel Arteta had sealed victory for the Merseysiders.

Moyes, who had teed up this encounter by questioning the desire and commitment of City's players, had seen Tim Cahill and Arteta score the goals that ended the home side's unbeaten record at Eastlands this season.

But with the Scot's pre-match comments clearly rattling the City camp, the frustrations boiled over in stoppage-time when Mancini barged into Moyes in an attempt to reclaim the ball for a throw-in.

The two men were involved in a face-to-face row before Walton stepped in and dismissed the two managers. If City are to secure a top four finish, and the accompanying passport to the riches of the Champions League, they are clearly going to have to do it the hard way judging by the demanding fixtures that lie ahead of them.

Manchester United and Tottenham are still to visit Eastlands and City must also negotiate a trip to Arsenal, where the presence of Emmanuel Adebayor is likely to whip the Emirates into a frenzy.

But with Everton approaching this match in such impressive form, City manager Roberto Mancini was acutely aware of the threat posed by David Moyes' team, admitting before the game that this could proved the toughest of all during the run-in.

Everton, with just two defeats in 16 games, inflicted Mancini's first defeat as City manager in January, but the pre-match comments from Moyes about the commitment of City's expensively-assembled players did not help the visitors in the early stages.

The home side appeared stung by Moyes' claim that "I don't know if all the Manchester City players know what it means to the Manchester City supporters", and they bombarded Everton with the fire and passion that Moyes had suggested was lacking.

Carlos Tevez was booked for a bizarre head-first challenge on Phil Jagielka and the Argentine was unlucky not to win a penalty after being tripped by goalkeeper Tim Howard on 24 minutes. Tevez's team-mates followed his lead, with spiky tackles flying in on their Merseyside opponents. Everton responded in kind, with Johnny Heitinga deservedly being booked for a crude challenge on Stephen Ireland that led to the City midfielder being replaced by Shaun Wright-Phillips before half-time.

By that stage, however, Everton had taken the lead after City had fallen for the oldest trick in the Moyes book -- the cross for the unmarked Tim Cahill to head into the net.

Cahill's heading ability is unquestioned. He is arguably the most lethal aerial threat in the Premier League, yet he is continually left free to punish teams with the very weapon he is so adept at using.

City simply switched off when Mikel Arteta played a free-kick short to Leighton Baines on the edge of the penalty area, leaving the England full-back free to pick his man.

And pick him out he did. With deadly accuracy, Baines floated a cross for Cahill to glance past Shay Given from six yards for his seventh goal of the season.

City, unbeaten at Eastlands since last April, now faced a true test of their Champions League credentials with Everton determined to resolutely defend their lead. But while they subjected Everton to intense pressure, City repeatedly crashed against the Merseysiders' impenetrable rearguard.

And the crucial 50-50 decisions also went against Mancini's team. On 49 minutes, Jagielka appeared to nudge the ball back to Howard with his hand as Tevez chased him down on the edge of the penalty area.

Referee Walton, berated with boos and subjected to chants of 'You don't know what you're doing' by the home fans, ignored the manic pleas of Mancini and his players and waved play on.

Everton were the personification of their manager as they toughed out the closing half hour. They were dour, stubborn and feisty. Everton inflicted the telling blow when Arteta made it 2-0 on 85 minutes. Another slick breakaway led to Jack Rodwell crossing into the penalty area and, with Cahill dummying the ball, Arteta was left free to score past the helpless Given.

So much for the big-spenders. Team spirit on a budget is Moyes' mandate and Everton certainly made their point. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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