Cahill goal party is ruined by a killjoy

Manchester City 0 - Everton 1
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The Independent Football

Two weeks off was enough for City to forget their 4-0 demolition of Charlton and return to familiar inconsistency as Everton maintained an unbeaten away record with a goal accompanied by controversy at the City of Manchester Stadium, despite a successful display of reputation- redeeming form from England goalkeeper David James.

Two weeks off was enough for City to forget their 4-0 demolition of Charlton and return to familiar inconsistency as Everton maintained an unbeaten away record with a goal accompanied by controversy at the City of Manchester Stadium, despite a successful display of reputation- redeeming form from England goalkeeper David James.

Tim Cahill struck the decisive blow for David Moyes's team after 59 minutes only to be red-carded as a consequence of a celebration the referee Steve Bennett determined to be too excessive, leaving Everton with 10 men.

City could not make the advantage count. But Everton deserved their victory, leaving City's quest to record two wins in a row still unfulfilled, some 17 months after they last managed it.

Inevitably, James was under the spotlight after the embarrassment of losing his England place in the wake of his nightmare in Vienna. James returned to domestic action with a ringing endorsement from his manager, Kevin Keegan, but it must have been a relief to quell any doubts about his state of mind with some vital first-half saves.

Tony Hibbert's fine blocking tackle foiled Robbie Fowler as City, who were 5-1 winners over Everton on the last day of last season, sought to inflict more pain. But it was the visiting side, despite choosing to launch the post-Wayne Rooney era with only Marcus Bent deployed as a striker, who looked sharper. But for James they would have led three times.

A double save from Steve Watson, always well to the fore in support of Bent, settled any James jitters within eight minutes. But there was more to come. On 22 minutes, as Hibbert found Bent with a well-flighted free kick from the right, James stooped a strong, point-blank header.

Everton continued to move forward eagerly. Cahill should have done better than glance wide when Lee Carsley's free- kick from the left went unintercepted, but James again dived to the home side's rescue a minute before half-time, to deny Leon Osman.

Carsley and Joey Barton both earned yellow cards after a full-blooded, studs-up challenge left each in need of treatment. Barton went to ground again a few moments later after a brush with Cahill, who was also booked.

It was to be a significant moment for the former Millwall midfielder given what happened after his goal gave Everton the lead that had been coming, 14 minutes into the second half.

This time, perhaps, James was at fault, leaving two defenders to deal with Hibbert's swirling cross from the right. When their collective efforts failed, Cahill's clever, angled header gave him no chance. But attention was drawn from him as Cahill celebrated his goal, Ravanelli-style, with his shirt momentarily over his head, to be shown a second yellow card, accompanied by a red.

Despite Fifa directives, it was hardly the full-blown, shirt-waving exhibitionism some players are wont to indulge in. It handed City a one-man advantage from which they should have profited. Everton's resilience was ultimately and justly rewarded.

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