Everton 1 Manchester City 1: Barton's blue moon lowers the tone of City celebrations

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The Independent Online

Exactly a year ago Everton were rooted in the bottom three of the Premiership. Now it seems that Manchester City are becoming a fixture in the basement.

While Micah Richards' late, late equaliser for City - it proved the final kick of the game some four minutes into what was advertised as only three minutes of added time - should not detract too much from the enormous improvement David Moyes' side have shown, Joey Barton's celebration may have achieved just that.

Andy Johnson's sixth League goal for his new club, a total greater than that of the entire Everton team at this stage 12 months ago, was still enough to extend their unbeaten start this season to seven games.

The result was surely of greater significance to City, who avoided slipping to a fifth consecutive away defeat - and 12th in their last 13. It was more than they deserved, because Everton's positive approach should have been rewarded by three points on balance of play, but City at least represented resilient opposition.

In fact, in Barton's case, too resilient. The controversial Liverpool-born midfielder, who once pushed a cigar into a team-mate's eye, celebrated afterwards by exposing his backside to the Goodison fans on his way off the pitch. An official complaint has been made and with Ben Thatcher currently serving a ban for his forearm smash on Pedro Mendes, indiscipline is becoming a recurring theme at City for their manager, Stuart Pearce.

"A policeman did approach me after the game to make me aware of the situation and it's up to them to deal with it first," said Pearce, trying to downplay the controversy. "I pointed out to him that it was probably just over-excitement from Joey after the dramatic end to the game.

"It's nothing new to me - I see Joey's bum after training every day!" The opening goal arrived at the end of the first half after Phil Neville crossed and Johnson's side-foot volley from 12 yards beat Nicky Weaver via a deflection off Sylvain Distin.

The second half was much livelier. Johnson and Leon Osman had already gone close before Dietmar Hamann's curling shot brushed past the post.

Then Cahill brought an excellent save from Weaver. Inevitably, Johnson seized on the rebound and a prostrate Richard Dunne on the line must have been relieved when the referee, Andre Marriner, decided he had blocked with his chest rather than an arm.

City did sporadically look dangerous but their afternoon was summed up by Samaras's shot rebounding back off the post in added time. Or so it seemed. As Distin launched one last long ball into the Everton penalty area Richards saw sense through the confusion to shoot home off the crossbar.

"We showed a bit of stickability," said Pearce. "It was a tight game but I thought we deserved something out of it." Richards celebrated his goal with a haphazard somersault routine that looked suspiciously unrehearsed.

Moyes looked dejected after the final whistle as his Everton side failed to win at home. He said: "It happens sometimes. We had chances to get the second goal but didn't take them. That put us under a bit of pressure. It looked like we had seen it out but..." He could not bring himself to finish the sentence.

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