MANCHESTER City ended Everton’s unbeaten record in the Barclays Premier League to finish a difficult week on a high.
Scorers: Manchester City: Negredo 17; Aguero 45; Howard 69 o.g.; Everton: Lukaku 16
Defeats by Aston Villa and Bayern Munich had made this a very important game for City and under-pressure goalkeeper Joe Hart, and they responded in style with a 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.
Romelu Lukaku put Everton ahead in the 16th minute but Alvaro Negredo equalised a minute later and Sergio Aguero struck to give the hosts the lead just before half-time.
The unlucky Tim Howard then diverted in a third in the 69th minute after initially saving Aguero’s penalty.
The victory was only City’s third in 13 attempts against Everton, who tasted league defeat for the first time under Roberto Martinez.
Despite his refusal to confirm that Hart would start following his mistakes against Bayern, City boss Manuel Pellegrini showed faith in the England man while changing more than half his team.
Only Vincent Kompany survived from the defence that faced the European champions while David Silva, James Milner and Negredo were also included.
Everton boss Martinez was without on-loan Gareth Barry, ineligible against his parent club, and the Toffees missed the midfielder’s calm presence.
Hart was straight into the action, diving on a ball from Steven Naismith with Lukaku lurking, but it was City who had the best of the early chances.
However, Everton made the breakthrough in the 16th minute, and again there were questions over Hart.
A long ball from Phil Jagielka beat the City defence and Lukaku broke into the area before placing a shot under Hart’s right hand.
The Toffees had no time to enjoy their lead, though, as from the restart City poured forward and Yaya Toure played in Negredo, who beat Howard.
City were dealt a blow in the 35th minute when captain Kompany limped off to be replaced by Matija Nastasic.
It had not been Aguero’s day, the Argentine was unusually clumsy in the final third, but he showed a clinical touch to give City the lead in the 45th minute.
Silva’s precise pass helped Aguero, who was just onside, beat former City man Sylvain Distin and tuck the ball into the far corner.
City were keen to add a third and pressed hard at the start of the second half without creating a real chance.
City were in the wars, Aleksandar Kolarov forced off in the 58th minute with a cut forehead, and Pablo Zabaleta also taking a bang that drew blood, but with cotton wool up his nose he returned to the pitch and promptly won a penalty.
Seamus Coleman leant into the full-back, who seemed to go down easily, and Everton were furious with referee Jon Moss’s decision.
Aguero stepped up and Howard tipped his shot on to a post but the ball hit the keeper on the back of the head on the rebound and went in.
Martinez had sent on Darron Gibson and Gerard Deulofeu for Leon Osman and Kevin Mirallas but Everton could not put any real pressure on Hart.
City continued to look the side more likely to score and Howard was forced into fine late saves from Negredo and substitute Samir Nasri.