Premier League - Balotelli strikes as City beat Everton

Sat, 24 Sep 14:38:00 2011

Mario Balotelli and James Milner came off the bench to ensure Manchester City completed a 2-0 Premier League win over a spirited Everton side at Etihad Stadium.

Man City 2 Everton 0

Having toiled for much of the first period, City finally made the breakthrough when Balotelli - thrown on for Edin Dzeko around the hour mark - saw a shot from distance deflect off Phil Jagielka on 68 minutes before nestling in the net with Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard given no chance.

They finished off a resolute Everton defence when James Milner - on for Sergio Aguero - raced onto a pass from David Silva to sllp the ball over the exposed Howard for his first Premier League goal for the club after visiting substitute Royston Drenthe had given the ball away.

Roberto Mancini's side briefly went top of the table with the win, but they fell back to second on goal difference when Manchester United drew 1-1 at Stoke City in the late kick-off match.

They will be grateful to get over the winning line against a side they lost twice to in the Premier League last term. It was only Everton's second defeat in nine matches against the home side, but these are changed days with Carlos Tevez left on the City bench.

For the majority of this match, it looked likely that David Moyes's side would leave with the point they came for after frustrating City with Jack Rodwell handed a man-marking remit to close down the dangerous Silva.

Aguero had scored eight goals in his first five Premier League appearances - matching the record of Mick Quinn for Coventry - but endured a tough time against an Everton defence superbly organised by the outstanding Jagielka and Sylvain Distin.

The best move of the first half saw Aguero rattle a shot at goal that was clawed behind by Howard on 35 minutes. Everton had few real attempts at the home goal despite an energised performance by the visitors.

Tim Cahill - who was forced off injured with an ankle problem - nodded over the bar on 55 minutes from Seamus Coleman's cross while Marouane Fellaini's shot was cleared off the line by City substitute Stefan Savic in injury time, but the game was done and dusted by that stage.

Samir Nasri forced Howard to swat a piledriver wide before Balotelli benefited from some luck to give City the lead with his deflected shot. It was tough on Everton, but the relief was palpable among the home support.

Silva then hit a post from 12 yards after more eager play by Balotelli in playing provider for his team-mate. City were looking comfortable, but Milner's late effort gave the scoreline a gloss that suggested a far more comfortable afternoon for the home side than this actually was.

Desmond Kane / Eurosport

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