Everton rocked Manchester City’s Champions League qualification hopes with a 2-1 win over Roberto Mancini’s men at Goodison Park.
A spirited turnaround from the hosts came in the form of two second half headers from Sylvain Distin and Leon Osman, having come out after the break a goal down due to a 28th minute strike from Yaya Toure.
In a first half hallmarked by the performance of David Silva, it seemed fitting that its only goal came as a result of the Spaniard's artistry. After laying off superbly to Yaya Toure, the Ivorian hit a fine effort to give his side the lead and leave them only 45 minutes from a near certain top four finish.
The comeback however was superb from Everton, with Distin and Osman denting Roberto Mancini's hopes of Champions League qualification, the very minimum required of his side in the eyes of the club's owners.
Having seen his side beat City in six of their last seven meetings, David Moyes opted for a surprisingly conservative starting line-up, with Victor Anichebe the Toffees’ sole striker and the talismanic Tim Cahill having been dropped to the bench with John Heitinga coming into a solid, if little goalshy midfield.
A negative air also ran through the selection of Roberto Mancini, with Adam Johnson and Mario Balotelli only making the bench, despite the pair having been in fine form in recent weeks. Edin Dzeko started alone up front for the visitors, looking to build on his first Premier League goal for the club at Blackburn a fortnight ago.
It was a stuttering start at Goodison, with the hosts having an early chance through Leon Osman from a Leighton Baines free-kick from the left. However, the in-form midfielder sliced his effort way over, much to the amusement of the travelling City fans.
If an injection of class was required, then it nearly came from a man with the artistry to do so. As Vincent Kompany hit a high ball from the right, it was David Silva who reacted the quickest, taking the ball in his stride with an ease that defied belief, beating a flummoxed Tony Hibbert and striking a superb low effort just wide of Howard's far post. It was a 10 second glimpse from the Spaniard worthy of a standing ovation.
It was becoming a one man show from the former Valencia man, as only minutes later, he knocked the most delicate of lay-offs into the path of Patrick Vieira only for the Frenchman, usually so cool in such situations, to blaze over from less than 10 yards out. The pressure was growing on Everton, who were at a loss in dealing with the Spain international.
Everton fought their way back into proceedings but the lingering doubts over their solidity at the back that emanated from a restless Goodison crowd became justified on the half hour mark. Having pinned the hosts in their own half, that man Silva found himself in space on the edge of the area and then, with an almost knowing telepathy, layed off cutely to the advancing Toure to give Howard no chance and City a deserved opener.
City setback | Silva & Jagielka in action as Everton come from behind to beat visitors
The response of the Toffees was admirable and as half-time approached, an equaliser looked more likely than a second for City. The leveller very nearly came the hosts way on the 43rd minute as Jack Rodwell, who had impressed in the heart of the Everton midfield, headed just wide from a superb Hibbert cross. Hope for Everton as the half-time whistle rang out but it was stopping the diminutive Spaniard up the other end of the pitch that will have been top of David Moyes' agenda during the break.
It was all just a little bit of history repeating as the second half began as Silva, whose energy down the left had seen Hibbert substituted at half-time for Beckford, broke forward and played a perfectly weighted ball into the feet of Yaya Toure, only for the Ivorian to slam his shot into Tim Howard.
It was a spurned chance for which Roberto Mancini's men would be made to pay as Distin, who had been formidable at the back for the entire game, leapt highest to meet Mikel Arteta's free-kick from the right-hand side. Everton, to their credit, were not finished there.
City were shellshocked following the equaliser and Everton were happy to exploit their counterparts' sloppiness. Phil Neville, who had moved to right-back following Hibbert's half-time substitution delivered a deep, swirling cross and Osman leapt to hit an unstoppable header past Hart and give his side the lead. He took a knock to the head in doing so but much like his team, it didn't take long for the midfielder to get back on his feet.
The visitors' response was rapid and a barrage of long balls rained down on the Toffees' box. Their resolve, as it had been throughout, was admirable and Roberto Mancini's disconsolate expression in the technical area outlined his frustration - his team were being beaten by a better side.
And so it would stay as the final whistle blew.The heart of Everton had overcome the most trying of circumstance. The wait goes on for Roberto Mancini's men, who have now lost to the Toffees in seven of their last eight meetings.
Commentaries, Stats, Player Ratings and much more,
Visit Goal.com Live Scores!