Mancini's men blow big chance to top the table at Christmas

Manchester City 1 Everton 2

When Carlos Tevez undertook last night to withdraw his transfer request it should have been the preface to the best Christmas Manchester City have had in 81 years but as has too often been the case at this club for as long as anyone can remember, they then conspired to spoil it.

They gave away two goals in the first 19 minutes and spent the rest of the match frantically trying to retrieve the situation. But Roberto Mancini's side will not spend Christmas in first place in the English top-flight for the first time since 1929, instead they will spend the next six days nursing a familiar feeling of what might have been.

When they come to look back upon this day at the end of season it will be remembered above all as the day that Tevez decided to stay and thus defused what was potentially a corrosive situation with the club until the summer at least. Then having solved one problem another one immediately opened up under City's feet.

As for Tevez, this was not the performance that would seal his great reconciliation with the City fans. They greeted his name with a loud roar of approval and the joy had barely subsided when Tim Cahill nipped in at the near post after five minutes to head home Everton's first goal.

When Leighton Baines curled in Everton's second after 19 minutes, City's fans were entitled to wonder whether this was just a cruel joke. They had salvaged the future of their most effective attacking player only for their team's defence to crumble.

It will have been no consolation that City dominated this game from midway through the first half onwards, even more so when Victor Anichebe was sent off for a second yellow card with 30 minutes remaining. It just about summed up City's evening when Kolo Touré collected two bookings in injury-time at the end of the game and went the same way – they could probably have played until Christmas Day and not scored an equaliser.

But none of this should diminish a great Everton performance that had David Moyes punching the air at the whistle. The manager deserved this one. His team rode their luck at times – penalty appeals against them were waved away, Tim Howard made some fabulous saves – but ultimately they looked a lot more like the Everton of the second half of last season.

At the final whistle, Moyes's players went to the away end to applaud their own supporters. Moyes must hope that, at last, this will spark the kind of new year renaissance that his team went through last year.

They did it with 10 men as City's pressure threatened to become intolerable. Phil Jagielka went off with a thigh strain for the crucial last 10 minutes and Tony Hibbert went in as an emergency centre-half. But this was a performance that epitomised the best of Everton under Moyes: resilient but with enough quality to beat top-notch opposition.

Yet at times it was a wonder that Everton survived. Most notably Howard barged Mario Balotelli when the striker attempted to finish a rebound after his own shot had hit the post. It was not a great night for referee Peter Walton – he should have given that penalty – but it was always likely to require some good fortune.

There was nothing lucky about either of Everton's goals, the first of which was made by Seamus Coleman when the 22-year-old chased a lost cause on the right and crossed for Cahill who had been left unmarked by Vincent Kompany at the near post.

Moyes noted how Cahill's "energy levels" were back to what they had been last season – a pity then that he will lose him next month because of Fifa's decision to schedule the Asian Cup in the middle of the domestic season.

Baines's goal was further evidence that he is one of the season's stand-out performers and surely too good to be ignored any longer by Fabio Capello to be Ashley Cole's understudy. He started the move and got the ball back via Anichebe and Cahill to curve his shot around Joe Hart and into the far corner.

"We conceded the first goal far too easy," said Mancini. "We slipped with the first chance they had." That was putting it mildly. City had not even got going when they found themselves two goals down. After that David Silva and Yaya Touré were central to the best of City's attacking play but there were too few clear chances created.

It was noticeable that among the 10 outfield players whom City started with there were six pairs of gloves, four snoods and one pair of tights. In contrast, Everton's outfield players eschewed the seasonal accessories until the second half.

Mancini brought on Adam Johnson for James Milner at half-time and he did a better job of getting in behind Everton. Sylvain Distin and Jagielka were excellent – at least until the moment that Jagielka put the ball in his own net. Then Johnson and Silva opened up Everton and Jagielka got a touch on Yaya Touré's shot to put it in.

That was after Anichebe got himself sent off on the hour for two needless fouls in five minutes. The first was a little harsh – he left something on Hart when chasing down a pass back to the goalkeeper. Then he swept away the legs of Pablo Zabaleta.

That was not all from Anichebe. As he crossed the touchline he threw his gloves away and they landed far too near to Mancini for it not to be considered an impolite gesture.

The best chance for City among many was when Balotelli beat Howard but hit the post with his lob and seemed to be impeded when he went after the rebound. Everton's goalkeeper flung himself on Tevez's follow-up and so his team held on. As for Tevez himself, he took himself off as quick as possible although at least the home support will be seeing him again.

Manchester City (4-3-1-2): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, K Touré, Kolarov; Silva, Barry, Milner (A Johnson h-t); Y Touré; Balotelli (Jo 83), Tevez. Substitutes not used: Given (gk), Richards, Wright-Phillips, Boateng, Vieira.

Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville, Jagielka (Hibbert, 79), Distin, Baines; Coleman (Saha 75), Rodwell, Fellaini, Osman (Bilyaletdinov 74); Cahill; Anichebe. Substitutes not used: Mucha (gk), Beckford, Gueye, Yakubu.

Booked: Manchester City Kompany, Barry, K Touré. Everton Fellaini, Anichebe.

Sent off: Everton Anichebe (59); Manchester City K Touré (90).

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire)

Man of the match: Howard.

Attendance: 45,028

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas