Everton dealt a crushing blow to Manchester City’s already slim English Premier League title hopes with a commanding 2-0 win on Saturday.
Roberto Mancini’s men, who have now lost their past four games at Goodison Park, were thoroughly outplayed in the first half and a stunning strike from stand-in captain Leon Osman ensured they headed into the break with a 1-0 deficit.
Steven Pienaar was sent off on the hour-mark but the hosts held on – even doubling their advantage late on through Nikica Jelavic – as David Moyes’ side produced the perfect reaction to their FA Cup humiliation against Wigan.
City stay 12 points behind league leaders Manchester United, who could extend their advantage with a win over Reading later on Saturday.
Everton dominated early as key men Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini – whose evident enthusiasm saw him booked after just six minutes – imposed themselves on the action.
And on 12 minutes, the hosts looked to have earned just reward for their early dominance as Kevin Mirallas hit the back of the net with a finely struck volley.
Controversially, the linesman ruled the effort offside, but replays suggested otherwise.
But on the half-hour mark, Osman gave Everton the lead in spectacular fashion.
Receiving the ball 30 yards from goal, the stand-in skipper sent a stunning strike straight into the top-left corner with his first touch, leaving Joe Hart rooted to the spot.
The visitors needed a response and Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko – their biggest threats– fired just off target minutes later, but the hosts were firmly in control going into the break.
It was more of the same after half-time.
That was until the hour-mark when Pienaar – who was booked in the first half – dived in with a rash challenge on Javi Garcia and referee Lee Probert showed no hesitation in sending the South African off.
The man advantage gave City all the space they needed – and they duly threatened on 66 minutes as Tevez and James Milner fired in a shot each.
Everton shot-stopper Jan Mucha produced two top-quality saves to keep City at bay.
The visitors were given cause to feel aggrieved late on as Fellaini handled inside the penalty area but Probert gave a free-kick just outside the box.
Aleksandar Kolarov could not convert the set-piece and Jelavic compounded their misery with the sealer in additional time, scoring on the counter-attack after Fellaini played him through.
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