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21 Dec 2010

Carlos Tevez's return failed to inspire Manchester City to the win that would have sent them top as 10-man Everton held on to clinch a vital victory.

Tevez boosted City before kick-off by withdrawing his transfer request, but the striker was largely anonymous.

Tim Cahill and Leighton Baines put Everton 2-0 up by half-time but Victor Anchibe was sent off on the hour.

City pulled one back when Yaya Toure's shot deflected in off Phil Jagielka, but Kolo Toure was red carded late on.

It was a disappointing display by City despite the boost of Tevez's change of heart after "clear the air" talks with City manager Roberto Mancini, with the Argentine being given the captain's armband.

City had the added incentive of replacing Manchester United at the top, but after conceding two goals in the opening 19 minutes they did not look like extending their unbeaten Premier League run to eight matches.

Everton arrived without a league win in seven games, but buoyed by their fine record of three consecutive league victories at the City of Manchester Stadium.

If Tevez had become an inspiration for Mancini's side - they have yet to lose a league game when he has scored - Everton manager David Moyes had his own lucky charm in the form of leading scorer Cahill, who has an impressive scoring record at Eastlands.

The 31-year-old Australian had scored two goals at City's ground in the past two seasons and he extended that record after four minutes.

Anichebe, playing as a lone striker, flicked Baines's pass into the path of Seamus Coleman before Cahill promptly headed the Irishman's cross beyond Joe Hart.

Eager to put some distance between themselves and the bottom of the table, Everton pressed for a second and while defender Pablo Zabaleta was off the pitch for treatment to a head injury, Anichebe and Cahill combined again to create the second goal in the 19th minute.

Anichebe, in only his third league game this season, set off on a storming run down the left, crossing to Cahill who laid the ball neatly off to defender Baines who curled a shot beyond Hart.

A patched up Zabaleta returned to the pitch minutes later and the Argentine immediately created an opening for Tevez, whose shot went behind for a corner.

City increased the pressure and peppered the Everton goal with shots for a short spell after the half hour, but the Toffees somehow kept out David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Mario Balotelli.

Temperatures were dipping in the ground but City were anxious to put the heat on Everton's defence and Aleksandar Kolarov almost beat Tim Howard but the Serbian's free-kick was narrowly deflected wide.

Zabaleta, despite the heavy strapping to his head, was proving to be City's best player as the half-time whistle approached.

Mancini added Adam Johnson into the mix after the break, bringing off James Milner, and the England winger offered greater width on the right.

Kolarov was one beneficiary of this fresh attack, coming close to scoring with a left-foot drive that narrowly missed the target.

Everton soaked up City's pressure but were on the back foot when Anichebe was dismissed on the hour after two quick bookings, the first for a soft challenge on Joe Hart and the second for a lunge on Zabaleta.

The home side should have taken advantage, but Balotelli's slip in the box just as he was presented with a fine chance seemed to sum up City's night.

Mancini's side pulled a goal back seconds later, however, when Johnson found Yaya Toure in the box and the midfielder's shot deflected in off Jagielka.

Moyes made two swift changes, introducing Russian midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and striker Louis Saha for midfielders Leon Osman and Coleman.

It was a bold attacking move but all eyes were soon on the Everton defence as Balotelli chested down a fine pass and poked the ball goalwards only to hit the post. He was denied a second chance by Tim Howard's smart intervention and the keeper completed a double save when Tevez followed up.

The American was soon called on again to preserve Everton's lead, pushing a Silva shot wide before saving a decent Tevez effort from the edge of the box.

City had Kolo Toure dismissed in injury time when the defender picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Bilyaletdinov.


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