Capital One Cup: Everton grab first leg advantage with 2-1 win over Manchester City
Everton will travel to the Etihad later this month with a slender advantage courtesy of Wednesday night's victory at Goodison Park
An impressive Everton side drew first blood as they beat Manchester City 2-1 in the first leg of the semifinals of the Capital One Cup late on Wednesday night. In-form striker Romelu Lukaku fired in his 19th goal of the season as Everton took control of the two-legged tie at Goodison Park.
Argentine defender Ramiro Funes Mori gave Everton the lead when he reacted quickest to a Willy Caballero save giving Everton the lead in the final minute of the first half. City’s Spanish winger Jesus Navas was the surprise scorer for the Citizens has he finished off a sweeping counter-attacking after excellent work from Sergio Aguero on 76 minutes.
However, the hosts hit right back with their prolific forward heading in the winner on 78 minutes to give the Merseyside club a priceless home win. Everton will travel to the Etihad on the 28th of this month for the second leg of the semifinals.
It was the away side that started the game on the front foot as they dominated with around 70% possession in the first 10 minutes. Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Fabian Delph all combined well as they looked to take the initiative early on. City came close to taking the lead in the 24th minute only for Nicolas Otamendi headed just wide from six yards.
The game got its first taste of drama in the 36th minute when John Stones had the ball in the back of the net only to be disallowed for offside. A free kick delivery from Baines found the head of Gareth Barry who headed it back across goal for Stones to score but was in an offside position himself and was correctly ruled out by the linesman.
Everton had another goal disallowed in the 42nd minute as Lukaku found the net but was miles offside when a delightful chip from Spanish winger Deulofeu found the Belgian near the penalty spot.
Everton finally made their efforts count in the 1st minute of the first half stoppage time as Funes Mori opened the scoring for the hosts. Ross Barkley hit a powerful shot straight at Caballero who parried it away. The City defense failed to get to the loose ball as the alert Mori lashed in from eight yards to spark a frenzy inside Goodison Park.
The start of the second half saw changes at both ends with Pellegrini bringing on Martin Demichelis for Mangala and Roberto Martinez replaced Tom Cleverley with veteran Leon Osman. Everton, buoyed by their first half lead made a brisk start after the interval as Lukaku almost scored from a Barry cross but was flagged offside anyway.
Pellegrini made another change on 52 minutes as he brought on Navas for Delph who was already under a yellow card and looked in danger of getting second half with his reckless play. City simply failed to turn up after the break as they were under relentless pressure from the home side with Barkley and Deulofeu missing narrowly.
City would have felt hard done by when they were denied a penalty as Kevin Mirallas clipped Navas in the box in the 70th minute. However, they found the equalizer on 76 minutes through Navas. Fernandinho launched a long ball towards Aguero after an Everton corner and the Argentine pulled in the only two Everton men in their half towards himself befoe finding Navas who calmly slotted past Joel to draw the visitors level.
Nevertheless, the visitors’ joy was shortlived as the hosts hit back right away to regain the lead on 76 minutes. Barkley and Barry combined down the left flank before the latter sent in a sumptuous cross for Lukaku to head home to the delight of the Goodison faithful.
However, the goal seemed to have come at a price as Lukaku hobbled off the pitch in the 80th minute and was replaced by Aruna Kone. The exact nature of the injury was not revealed but it could be a huge blow for Roberto Martinez and Everton as the big Belgian has been in irresistible form this season.
There was another injury scare for Everton as Seamus Coleman walked off the pitch towards the end of the game with an ice pack strapped to his left leg as the hosts held on to complete an impressive victory over the men from Manchester.