Balotelli and Milner fire City to win

Argentine Sergio Aguero continues his great form to help Manchester City to a 2-0 victory over a defensive Everton side.

    Mario Balotelli came off the bench to give Manchester City the lead [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Manchester City needed late goals by substitutes Mario Balotelli and James Milner to beat Everton 2-0 and keep the pressure on fierce rivals Manchester United at the top of the English Premier League on Saturday.

    Balotelli was introduced by City manager Roberto Mancini in the 60th and the Italy striker made a quick impact, latching onto Sergio Aguero's layoff eight minutes later and finding the bottom corner via a deflection from Everton defender Phil Jagielka.

    Milner wrapped up the win in the 89th, running onto David Silva's pass and slipping a low finish past goalkeeper Tim Howard.

    City's victory - their fifth in six league matches this season - ended a run of four straight home defeats to Everton, which has been the hosts' bogey team in recent years.

    "We never have an easy game against Everton," City captain Vincent Kompany said.

    "But with the quality we have, it was just a matter of patience. Today, we did exactly what we needed to do."

    Everton, who started the day in sixth place, were threatening an all too familiar shut-out at Eastlands before Balotelli's goal.

    Buoyed by a run of seven wins in the last eight league games against City, David Moyes' side were successful in frustrating the hosts with their ultra-defensive tactics and physical approach that brought three bookings in
    the opening half hour.

    One of those yellow cards was given to Jack Rodwell, who did a stirling man-to-man marking job on Silva, often the instigator of City's attacking moves.

    Second half double

    City only had fleeting glimpses of Everton's goal in the first half with Aguero skying a shot over the bar in the 17th before bringing a diving save out of United States goalkeeper Tim Howard in the 35th.

    Everton succeeded in dampening the atmosphere early on but were rarely an attacking threat themselves, with Australia midfielder Tim Cahill - playing as a lone striker - heading over Seamus Coleman's cross in the 54th with the team's only genuine chance.

    Balotelli, who scored in City's 2-0 victory over Birmingham in the third round of the League Cup on Wednesday, replaced the ineffective Edin Dzeko in the 60th in a substitution that made all the difference.

    Moments after Howard parried away a fierce shot from Samir Nasri, Balotelli met Aguero's layoff at the edge of the area with a sidefooted effort that took a slight deflection off the leg of the sprawling Jagielka and span into the bottom corner of the goal.

    With Everton now having to attack, City found more space going forward and Silva almost made it 2-0 when he thrashed a low shot against the post in the 71st.

    Howard then had to turn aside a powerful curling effort from Yaya Toure in the 84th but City were not to be denied a second.

    Milner surged onto Silva's sublime through-ball and finished by shooting underneath Howard.



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