David Moyes acknowledged how merciless football can be after Phil Jagielka ruptured a ligament in his left knee against Manchester City, an injury that rules him out of the FA Cup final against Chelsea and could see him sidelined for six months.
The centre-half, Everton's most consistent performer this season, collapsed after trying to control the ball, unimpeded, after little more than an hour. He was an ever-present this season until rested for the midweek draw at Chelsea. Now he faces an unwanted break and will undergo surgery in around 10 days' time. "It can be a cruel game at times. Right at the top end you can get great pleasure from it but also there can be great downs," Moyes said.
The Everton manager has already had to compensate for serious injuries to Yakubu and Mikel Arteta this season but Jagielka's loss could be crucial, particularly when it comes to shackling Didier Drogba on 30 May.
Joseph Yobo is likely to be the principal beneficiary but he had great sympathy for his team-mate. "It's very sad, it was a bad day for us," he said. "We lost the game and it looks like we're going to lose Phil for a while. I wouldn't want to play because Phil is injured, they're not the circumstances I'd like."
Everton were on their way to defeat against a slick City before Jagielka's misfortune. Robinho showed flashes of brilliance and scored the opener after 35 minutes with a neat left-foot finish after being released by Elano. He also laid on the second for Stephen Ireland, floating a pass for the midfielder nine minutes after the restart and his finish dissected Jagielka and Tim Howard.
Howard's opposite number, Shay Given, had already kept out a Marouane Fellaini volley with a stunning save, rendering Dan Gosling's late effort a mere consolation. Gosling was part of a triple substitution before the loss of Jagielka, meaning Everton played the last half an hour with 10 men.
Everton (4-4-1-1) Howard; Hibbert, Yobo, Jagielka, Baines; Osman, Neville, Castillo (Gosling, 60), Pienaar; Fellaini (Cahill, 60); Saha (Vaughan, 60). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Lescott, Rodwell, Baxter.
Manchester City (4-2-3,1) Given; Richards (Fernandes, 57), Dunne, Onuoha, Bridge; De Jong, Kompany; Elano (Evans, 88), Ireland, Robinho; Caicedo (Petrov, 84). Substitutes not used: Hart (gk), Bojinov, Garrido, Petrov, Berti.
Referee: A Wiley.
Booked: Everton Neville; Man City Onuoha, Elano, Fernandes.
Man of the match: Robinho.
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