Everton vs Manchester City match report: Aleksandar Kolarov and Samir Nasri extend Premier League leaders City's perfect start

Everton 0 Manchester City 2

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The Independent Online

The figures most associated with Manchester City tend to come with pound signs in front of them, but the numbers that cling to them this morning already look ominous for the rest of the Premier League. Three games, nine points, eight goals scored, none conceded.

Of Manchester City’s three victories, this was the most impressive, harder by far  than the dismemberment of Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium the week before.

They may have finished the match with just two Englishmen on the pitch, but this was a very English victory. It was mid-afternoon in August but the floodlights at Goodison were already burning full on as the rain belted down from a sky as bruised as some of the players would be an hour and a half later.

Under David Moyes’s  management, Everton were a constant, bloody thorn in the side of City’s ambitions, but this time they were worn down by the sheer quality of the pressure. A few minutes before the visitors broke through, David Silva saw his shot hammer back from the centre of Tim Howard’s post.

Shaun Goater, who led the attack in the days when money to Manchester City meant how much the club owed, tweeted that he expected a goal very shortly. The Goat did not have long to wait.

Raheem Sterling had, as he must have expected, been roundly booed – and not just because he has put his mansion, complete with its swimming pool and Michael Jackson-themed bar, on the market.

On the hour mark,  he gave his response with a clever pass to Aleksandar Kolarov that opened up the space the left-back required to beat Howard at his near post. It was the first time since March that Sterling had provided an assist – and that was against Manchester City at Anfield.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez thought it stung Everton, who had been pushed remorselessly back throughout the second half, rather too much. They had enjoyed an equal share of the first half and seen Romelu Lukaku denied the opening goal by what Martinez called “an outstanding decision by the linesman”. In the heart of the City defence, Eliaquim Mangala was on a yellow card, as was the man in front of him, Fernandinho.

Had Vincent Kompany, who looks to be dealing seamlessly with any pressure caused by Nicolas Otomendi’s arrival, not cleared off the line, Everton might have equalised. And yet, when Sterling’s replacement, Samir Nasri, played a beautifully judged one-two with Yaya Touré that was finished off with a little dink over Howard, Everton’s resistance was snuffed out like a candle left out in the summer rain.

This was Manchester City’s ninth straight victory in top-flight football, which equals a club record, although it meant little to those in Goodison’s away dressing room. In the same way that Everton captain Phil Jagielka thought April’s 3-0 victory over Manchester United meaningless because by then the club had nothing to play for, so City’s keeper Joe Hart pointed out that six of those wins had come at the end of a “dead season”. This one is new-born and kicking hard.

What angered Martinez was not that Howard had been beaten at his near post by Manchester City’s left-back but that David Silva, who was once more the visitors’ pivotal figure, was allowed too much space in the build up to the opening goal. “Today they were at their very, very best and then they only need a half-chance to score a goal,” said the Everton manager. Here, they were given slightly more than half-chances.

“We had the best moments in the first half, we carried a threat and looked very dynamic, but we didn’t have our normal composure in front of goal,” he added. “But the first goal mattered too much. We were really sloppy on the ball, gave them a counter-attack and the ball ends up in the net. In terms of effort and confrontation, we built a strong platform against the best team in the league, but we were not clinical enough.”

Everton had their moments. Ross Barkley drove hard into Hart’s gloves and, just before the interval, Lukaku sent a free-kick skimming off the top of the bar and sank theatrically to his knees.

It was, however, in defence where Everton were at their most impressive. While young Brendan Galloway found himself stretched to the limit by Jesus Navas on City’s right flank, Jagielka and John Stones coped admirably with the constant threat of Silva and Sergio Aguero, who forced Howard into a reaction save in the opening exchanges.

Each produced finely-timed tackles, Stones on Kolarov, Jagielka on Aguero. However, the trouble with defending against Manchester City in this mood is that you have to keep this sort of thing up for 90 minutes-plus.

Martinez insisted that this would not be Stones’s final game at Goodison Park, despite the presence of Ramiro Mori, who plays centre-half for River Plate, in the crowd. He is being portrayed as a reinforcement rather than a replacement for Stones and Martinez would not confirm a deal was done, although it would be an awful long way to travel to watch a match, however absorbing.

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