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Everton 2 Man City 1 - Match Report

Get in: Sylvain Distin celebrates the equaliser.
Get in: Sylvain Distin celebrates the equaliser.

Manchester City may win the war by lifting the FA Cup and securing 4th place but Everton continue to win the battle to prove money can’t buy everything.

Not that you would have believed that after watching a first half where City looked every inch a team that had spent in excess of £300million to get where they are today. David Silva, who cost around £25million alone, in particular looked a player of real class, pulling the strings in midfield and creating opportunities for others. One of those was for Patrick Vieira, who blasted the best opportunity of the game over when it seemed easier to score.

There was nothing Everton to do to stem the Man City tide and it was no surprise when they took the lead and that Silva was at the heart of it. The Spaniard laying the ball off to the overlapping Yaya Toure - earning an eye watering £120,000 a week at the Citizens, - who controlled the ball, strode forward into space and fired past Howard from an acute angle.

Moyes responded at the break by taking off Tony Hibbert and bringing on Jermaine Beckford, which immediately gave Everton a bit of presence up front. The introduction of Tim Cahill later in the half also proved decisive as it became clear Moyes has sent his players out to ‘get at’ City. And when you have the likes of Sylvain Distin, Phil Neville and Jonny Heitinga in your side you can be fairly confident they will be capable of scrapping and battling their way to victory.

City, perhaps with next week's FA Cup final in mind, were not keen on putting their bodies on the line with a place at Wembley at stake, though a shoving match involving several players from both sides midway through the second half suggested there was still fire in the Eastlands belly.

What they couldn't handle though was a stirring fight back from the Toffees that saw them turn the game on its head in the space of seven minutes.

First, Distin rose highest from a Mikel Arteta free kick to plant a header past Joe Hart who got a hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out.

His celebration and the subsequent reaction of the fans highlighted their continued determination to prove City and their riches wrong at every opportunity. The presence of Joleon Lescott in City colours symbolises the resentment that has grown between the two sides since the defender’s controversial switch to Eastlands two years ago and City’s rise above Everton into contention for silverware and the Champions League positions.

But while City have a lot of things I have yet to see in their side evidence of anything like the grit, determination and team spirit shown by Everton in the second half.

A player who embodies that is Leon Osman. The perennially under rated midfielder is in sparkling form at the moment and scored a glorious winner, rising like a salmon to plant a looping header into the top corner past Joe Hart. It was a goal the watching Duncan Ferguson would have been proud of and Goodison understandably celebrated with gusto.

City still had time to throw on £90million worth of talent on from the bench in Adam Johnson, Mario Balotelli and former Everton misfit Jo, but the closest they came was a deflected effort from £24million man James Milner that wrong footed Howard but just looped over the bar.

In the grand scheme of things this win may matter little. City are still going to finish fourth and head to Wembley while Everton will more than likely now finish seventh.

But while Everton’s status as Premier League paupers is at its starkest when they play mega rich City the determination to fight against the odds is consequently at its greatest.

It hasn’t been a vintage season and the spending from teams like City have made any sort of tangible progress by Everton in future seasons extremely doubtful. But afternoons like Saturday remind you of why going to the match is so great and why Everton are so special.

They may not have money, they may not have the best players and they may not be in contention for the top prizes. But on any given day Everton’s spirit and unity can overcome all manner of obstacles.

And that is something money can’t buy