This was not much of a homecoming for Everton after their Wembley heroics, and nor was it a great way for their manager, David Moyes, to celebrate his 46th birthday. Too good for Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals, not good enough for a slick City at Goodison. Inspired by flashes of brilliance from Robinho, who scored the first and set up the excellent Stephen Ireland for the second, City's first win on the road since August could have been by a wider margin.
Everton's misery was compounded by a serious knee injury suffered by Phil Jagielka. The centre-half, whose penalty clinched Everton's place in the FA Cup final, was carried off shortly after Moyes' triple substitution. A late strike by one of those, Dan Gosling, was of little consolation. "He's having a scan now and we'll know later how Phil is," said a visibly upset Moyes, who added that he feared the worst.
Everton were showing signs of wear and tear, with Louis Saha particularly disappointing and only Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar offering glimpses of quality.
City's main outlet was Robinho and he forced Tim Howard into a one-handed save after Baines had blocked Elano's shot. With Ireland and Nigel de Jong busy in midfield City were bright, and Baines was again called into action with a crucial block on Elano when Robinho sent him through. A minute later City were ahead. A long clearance from an Everton free-kick was headed straight to Elano by Joseph Yobo and his first-time pass sent Robinho racing beyond Jagielka before sending a left-foot shot under Howard, who should have done better. It was the Brazilian's 14th goal of the season.
Shay Given denied Everton with a stunning save from Marouane Fellaini's turn and volley after the break and it proved crucial. City edged further ahead from another quick counter after Segundo Castillo's shot was charged down. The ball broke for Robinho who floated in a cross for Ireland and his finish bisected Howard and Jagielka.
Moyes sent on Tim Cahill, Gosling and James Vaughan and Gosling pulled one back after controlling Pienaar's centre with his right foot and finishing with his left.
City had shown the quicker feet, though, and despite surviving two penalty shouts when Vincent Kompany tangled with Fellaini and Richard Dunne appeared to handle, they were worth the points. "We were nice and solid, that was an overdue away win," said their manager, Mark Hughes. "Robinho and Ireland combined excellently and gave us some real quality."
Referee: Alan Wiley
Man of the match: Robinho
Match rating: 6/10