It’s all still to play for in the Capital One Cup semi-final following the first leg at Goodison Park.
Although the away side succumbed to a 2-1 defeat in Merseyside, the tie is still delicately poised after an absorbing clash on Wednesday night.
Here’s what we learned from the first 90 minutes of this 180 minute showdown…
Two controversial moments…
Manuel Pellegrini was convinced that City should have had a penalty in the 68th minute of the contest and, to put it mildly, he had a case.
Kevin Mirallas clearly took Jesus Navas’s standing leg away with his challenge inside the box and made no contact with the ball, leaving Pellegrini perplexed by the official’s decision to take no action.
The Chilean definitively declared: “It was a foul, it was clear – he took the legs of Jesus - it was a clear penalty.”
Manuel also felt as though the first Everton goal should have been ruled out for offside.
Romelu Lukaku was definitely in an offside position when Ross Barkley struck for goal but, whether or not he was interfering with Willy Caballero’s line of sight and should have been flagged off before Ramon Funes Mori stuck home the rebound, is a more debatable issue.
Navas to the rescue?
Despite these thorny issues which contributed to the scoreline, City are at least still well in the tie going into the second leg at the Etihad in three weeks’ time.
That’s down to Jesus Navas who climbed off the bench and swiftly ended his 66-match goal drought, netting for the first time since September 2014.
It wasn’t just his goal that caught the eye… not for the first time this season, Navas injected a fresh impetus into City’s attacks and helped to stretch the Toffees’ backline to breaking point, ending a rocky 15 minute spell for the away side on either side of the half-time break.
On the penalty issue, Navas was certain it should have been given: “It was definitely penalty but the referee didn’t see it,” he said. “That’s a pity but there is nothing we can do about it.”
“The problem is that we conceded a goal straight after I had scored. Now we need to focus on the next game and not get too worried about the result today.”
Another injury blow…
In a season where City have been ravaged by injuries, there was a fresh blow at half-time in this semi-final clash.
Pellegrini confirmed after the game that Eliaquim Mangala was withdrawn at the break with a suspected hamstring strain, meaning he is likely to be without two of his four recognised centre backs for the trip to Norwich on Saturday afternoon.
Martin Demichelis would be the favourite to come into the line-up but Bacary Sagna is another option, having played in that position on a number of occasions for Arsenal in the past.
It was hoped that the back-from-the-dead win over Watford on Saturday afternoon had cured City’s travel sickness once and for all but, on last night’s evidence, there’s still a way to go in finding the cure for this malady.
Defeat to Everton on Wednesday was our fifth defeat away from home this season and with a trip to in-form Norwich coming up fast, we need to sort out these problems quickly or we’ll find we’re fighting on three fronts instead of four.