Manchester - Marouane Fellaini played a decisive role at both ends of the pitch as
Everton held Manchester City to a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Fellaini, Everton's outstanding player of the season, put Everton ahead with
his eighth goal of the campaign on a ground at which his side had won on four
of their previous five visits.
However, it was also Fellaini's tug on Edin Dzeko's shirt at a corner that
led referee Lee Probert to award the penalty from which Carlos Tevez equalised.
The point took City top of the table ahead of Manchester United's late game
City manager Roberto Mancini sprung a surprise by picking Joleon Lescott,
the former Everton defender, who has been kept out of the side recently by
teenage summer recruit Matija Nastasic.
His Everton counterpart, David Moyes, admitted on Friday that he would not
be averse to taking England centre-back Lescott back on loan when the transfer
window opens next month.
Lescott, who was instrumental in City's title campaign - playing in 31 of
the 38 games - had not figured since playing in the 3-1 Champions League
defeat against Ajax in Amsterdam on October 24.
City suffered an early setback when Aleksandar Kolarov, preferred to
mid-week choice Pablo Zabaleta at left-back, limped off after six minutes to be
replaced by Zabaleta.
Tim Howard and Dzeko both needed treatment after Maicon drifted in a teasing
cross that called on the Everton goalkeeper to save at full stretch.
But Howard's next call of duty did not go so well as the United States
goalkeeper chose to punch clear a swirling free-kick from David Silva.
The ball was half-cleared and when Silva swung in a cross from the right,
Sylvan Distin did just enough to disrupt Tevez, whose header sailed wide.
Maicon had his hands full with the partnership of Everton duo Steven Pienaar
and Leighton Baines down his flank, the pair working well without reward.
However, the Brazilian defender still found time to launch a swift City
attack in tandem with Tevez that saw Samir Nasri's shot blocked by Phil
Fellaini had made a quiet start to the game, but that changed suddenly after
33 minutes when Everton took the lead following a superb cross from Baines.
Vincent Kompany's attempted clearing header merely skimmed the ball on to
Fellaini at the far post.
His header was brilliantly saved by Joe Hart, but the England goalkeeper
could only push the ball into the air and the Belgian took full advantage to
knee it over the line.
Howard was forced to react well to a shot from Tevez as City attempted to
extricate themselves from a position all too familiar in this fixture over
But they were given a helping hand by Fellaini himself, whose tug on Dzeko's
shirt at a 43rd-minute corner was deemed worthy of a penalty by Probert.
Other officials might have overlooked an offence that has become
commonplace, but Everton's protests fell on deaf ears and Tevez sent Howard the
wrong way from the spot.
Lescott, keen to do well against his former club, was unfortunate to pick up
the game's first booking for a stretch that won the ball but sent Pienaar
tumbling head over heels.
Fellaini almost restored Everton's advantage in time added onto the end of
the first half, a deft back header from Baines' cross forcing Hart to plunge to
another fine save.
With the second half becoming something of a stalemate, Maicon surged
forward to power in a fierce shot that Howard was happy to parry, while
Jagielka made a vital tackle inside the penalty area to halt Silva's progress.
And in the dying minutes, as the full-time whistle loomed, Hart was almost
bamboozled by a Nikica Jelavic free-kick that dipped and moved.