Mills' wonder goal inspires City as Moyes remains rock bottom

Manchester City 2
Everton 0

Others you don't see coming, like the magnificent defining moment of this previously turgid game.

When Stuart Pearce sent for a fit-again former England international as a goal-scoring remedy for City's recent slump, he was thinking more of Andy Cole than Danny Mills.

But it was the experienced full-back, recalled in place of the new England under-21 recruit Neddum Onuoha following a virus, who wondrously ended 72 minutes of tedium.

With Everton belatedly stretched by opponents they beat home and away last season in what must already seem a previous life, Mills received a short pass from the substitute Lee Croft, took a few paces and crashed home right-footed from close on 30 yards.

Not only was it awesome power that did for Nigel Martyn, there was even a bit of "draw" to underpin Mills' first goal since Leeds United faced Bolton Wanderers in December 2002.

"I was shouting 'get back, get back', then he goes and does something like that,'' said Pearce. "He's come up with a most-unlike Danny Mills shot.''

At a time when Everton would kill for the scruffiest of entries on the scoresheet, they needed finishing of that surprise element against them like a party animal needs an 11.15am kick-off.

Up with the lark they may have been, but they remain very much down with the strugglers and will be facing a fight to preserve their 52-season top-flight status if they don't wake up soon from their stupor.

Their manager David Moyes has reverted to 4-4-2 from the widely damned 4-5-1 that served him so well last season. When you have been knocked out of two European competitions, hit the bottom of the table and scored only one league goal by the start of October, there is a certain argument for going back to basics.

The fact that James Beattie and Duncan Ferguson were sent on in turn, though, for Marcus Bent and James McFadden underlined this as another day of lean pickings. Although David James' kicking was atrocious and Tim Cahill was rightly given offside before netting following a Nuno Valente free-kick, Everton took until the final 15 minutes to seriously threaten.

Then Kevin Kilbane's shot was beaten out by the diving keeper and Sylvain Distin cleared near the line in the 89th minute from his rival captain, David Weir, with Beattie unable to make the decisive contact.

The sight of a City fan in pyjamas provided light relief amid the culture shock of witnessing the Premiership's earliest ever kick-off but, when it came to alarm, the morning call had nothing on the woeful lack of first-half quality.

In front of a bleary-eyed crowd which was actually 300 up on City's average for the season, the home side were thankfully much improved in the second half - a point reinforced in injury time when Darius Vassell slid the ball home following good work by Sun Jihai and Joey Barton.

Everton's discomfort will intensify if the FA act over an unspotted kick-out at Croft by Neville, who has already been sent off this season. The former Manchester United utility man was resilient in a midfield in which 19-year-old Stephen Ireland was impressive in his first Premiership start. But Neville might have left Moyes in even deeper strife.

"It's too early to talk about relegation battles, but we want to get away from the position we're in as soon as we can," the manager said. "There is still talent here and we need that to show very quickly.''

Goals: Mills (72) 1-0; Vassell (90) 2-0.

Manchester City (4-4-2): James; Mills, Dunne, Distin, Jordan; Sibierski, Ireland, Barton, Musampa (Croft, 62); Cole (Jihai, 90), Vassell. Substitutes not used: DeVlieger (gk), Sommeil, Onuoha.

Everton (4-4-2): Martyn; Ferrari, Yobo, Weir, Valente; Osman (Davies, 75), Neville, Cahill, Kilbane; Bent (Beattie, 63), McFadden (Ferguson, 70). Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), Kroldrup.

Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).

Booking: Manchester City Barton.

Man of the match: Ireland.

Attendance: 42,681.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning