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

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice