Manchester City warm up for Norwich City with defeat at Everton
06:30 07 January 2016
Manchester City warmed up for their FA Cup clash at Carrow Road with a 2-1 loss at Everton in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final.
The big-spending title hopefuls started the game with several of their top players – including Yaya Toure, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne – but rested goalkeeper Joe Hart and £44m summer signing Raheem Sterling.
Striker Wilfried Bony missed the Goodison Park encounter due to a sore calf but is expected to be fit for Saturday’s FA Cup tie.
Manuel Pellegrini’s defensive options look to be under further strain though after having to withdraw France centre-back Eliaquim Mangala at half-time, bringing on 35-year-old former Bayern Munich Martin Demichelis in his place.
With influential club captain Vincent Kompany already expected to be out until the end of January with his persistent calf problem, the Canaries could be facing the five-time FA Cup winners at a good time.
Everton, who did not include reported Norwich transfer target Steve Naismith in their squad for a second successive match, went into half-time with a 1-0 lead thanks to a close-range finish from Argentinian defender Ramiro Funes Mori in first half injury-time.
City equalised in the 76th minute when substitute Jesus Navas finished a swift counter attack after a sublime pass from Aguero.
But the Toffees take a one-goal advantage into the second leg at the Etihad Stadium on January 27 thanks to a header from top scorer Romelu Lukaku just two minutes later.
The Belgian powered home a cross from the left from Gareth Barry, taking advantage of static defending to score his 19th goal of the season.
City boss Pellegrini was unhappy about Everton’s opener, with Lukaku in an offside position when Funes Mori scored, and believed his side should have been awarded a penalty.
“I think it was absolutely offside,” the Chilean said of the hosts’ opener. “He (Lukaku) was in front of Willy Caballero, he makes a movement to participate in the play.
“It’s unbelievable that the referee or the linesman didn’t see that it was a clear offside or give a very clear penalty for Jesus Navas. That is two very important actions that can change the score. It was a foul inside the box, he didn’t touch the ball, he touched him clearly, both legs are off the floor, it is a clear penalty.”
John Stones and Lukaku both also thought they had scored for the Toffees in the first half but both goals were, correctly, ruled out for offside.
Pellegrini is still confident his side can make the final after the defeat though, saying: “Lukaku is a very dangerous striker, he had a very good header and finally we lost the game but I didn’t think we deserved to lose.
“Not in the first half, when they score a goal in the last minute which was absolutely offside, and in the second half, I repeat, we should have had a clear penalty and had two more clear chances to score.
“The final balance, we must do it at the end of 180 minutes. We have just played 90 minutes, it was very important not to concede another goal.
“Losing 2-1 away is just losing 1-0 at home so it’s a score that, we can do it, if we play in the way we know we are capable of.”