Lukaku hands Everton advantage against Man City

Everton hold the advantage in the Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester City after Romelu Lukaku’s 19th goal of the season gave them victory at Goodison Park.
City looked to have secured a draw with 14 minutes left, when Jesus Navas finished a sweeping counter-attack following brilliant work by Sergio Aguero.
That equaliser cancelled out Ramiro Funes Mori’s opener for Everton on the stroke of half-time.
Argentine Funes Mori pounced after Willy Caballero saved Ross Barkley’s shot – although City were nursing an understandable sense of injustice with Lukaku standing in an offside position in front of the keeper.
Everton refused to be sunk by Navas’s sucker punch and responded within two minutes, Lukaku heading in his 12th goal in 12 games from Gareth Barry’s perfect cross.
Everton had efforts from John Stones and Lukaku rightly ruled out for offside – and it looked like a case of third time lucky for Martinez’s team when Funes Mori struck just before half-time.
Caballero did well to block Barkley’s shot, even though the giant figure of Lukaku was clearly standing offside, and appeared to be in the City keeper’s line of vision.
Lukaku did not touch the ball, and did not appear to make a movement towards it, so the debate centred on whether he was interfering with an opponent by obstructing Caballero’s view.
Referee Robert Madley waved away City’s protests and Everton grasped at their good fortune – but the visitors had every right to feel they were hard done by.
That was not the only frustration for City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who felt his side had a strong penalty appeal rejected when Navas went down under a Kevin Mirallas challenge.
“Everton’s first goal was absolutely offside and it was a clear penalty when Jesus Navas was fouled by Kevin Mirallas,” Pellegrini said. “I didn’t speak to the referee after the game – they were both clear.
“To lose 2-1 is a bad result but it just means we have to win 1-0 at home. I still think we are able to play in the Capital One Cup final.”
-Gareth Barry’s masterclass-
When the 34-year-old former England midfield man struggled last season, many thought this model professional’s distinguished career at the top was coming to a close.
Barry has demonstrated that reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated by having an outstanding campaign this term – and all that experience was on show here.
He was the perfect partner for the abrasive, energetic Mo Besic, the rough diamond whose early tackling and positive approach kept Everton going through a slow start and roused a subdued Goodison Park.
Barry, in turn, showed all his class as he strode through midfield making crucial interceptions, breaking up play and barely wasting a pass.
Ross Barkley had a frustrating evening further forward but once again he never stopped driving at Manchester City’s defence and epitomised Everton’s approach after the early exchanges, even though he promised more than he delivered, with several strikes either wide of the target or saved by Caballero.
-Toure’s disappearing act-
While Barry and Besic ran the show around him, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure looked every day of his 32 years and more besides.
A lumbering figure, he had no impact on the game and his contribution was summed up when an attempted forward run in the first half was halted by the pace and power of Besic, who caught up the giant Ivorian to tackle and rob him, leaving him stranded on the ground.
Even as City chased their way back into the game in the second half, Toure was nowhere to be seen. Normally such an influence, he was little more than a passenger.
Toure is still capable of moments of brilliance, as he showed when scoring in Saturday’s win at Watford – but are the years finally catching up with the midfield man who has been City’s talisman so often?

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