MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City fell three points behind Manchester United in the Premier League title race after the champions were held to a 1-1 draw by Everton on Saturday.
Marouane Fellaini headed Everton in front in the 33rd minute but conceded a penalty 10 minutes later after tangling with Edin Dzeko, allowing Carlos Tevez to equalize from the spot. The draw maintained City's unbeaten start to its title defense, however it also allowed United to extend its lead by winning 4-3 at Reading.
"In this moment, we are not very strong with our strikers," City manager Roberto Mancini said. "We need them to score more goals." City has gone 37 home games without defeat, a sequence stretching back to a loss to Everton two years ago.
"Everton is always a difficult game because they work hard, they defend very well," City manager Roberto Mancini said. "In the second half we played better, probably deserved to score another goal. "In the end we are not happy, but the season is long and this doesn't change anything. If you don't pay attention you can lose three points, and it is sometimes better to take one."
It was Everton's seventh draw in its past nine games. "We've been playing well in most of the games and we showed it again against the champions," Everton manager David Moyes said. "I was pleased with that and then 20 minutes after halftime we knew we would have to weather it.
"Manchester City tend to get better in the second half and they did do. It was a good draw for us. We've had some bad draws but that was a good draw." The match took some while to warm up and City was hit by an early blow as Aleksandar Kolarov limped off after just six minutes.
Manager Roberto Mancini had opted to rest the hard-working Pablo Zabaleta but the in-form Argentine was summoned from the bench straight away. Defender Joleon Lescott made an unexpected return to the side, to face his former club, in place of Matija Nastasic.
The England defender looked composed as he resumed his partnership with Vincent Kompany after more than a month out of the starting line-up. Everton playmaker Leon Osman gave the City defense plenty to think about in the early stages without creating a clear-cut opening.
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard had to pick himself up from a collision with Dzeko after coming to claim a cross from Maicon, who looked dangerous in attack but vulnerable in defense. City threatened the Everton goal in the 20th when David Silva crossed and Dzeko headed wide.
But Everton took the lead after Leighton Baines, who passed a fitness test to feature, crossed and Fellaini eventually headed in. Kompany did well to divert the cross away from Nikica Jelavic but it dropped for Fellaini, who headed home at the second attempt at the far post after goalkeeper Joe Hart saved his initial effort.
That brought the game to life and City almost found an immediate equalizer as Tevez met Nasri's cross with a deft header that Howard did well to save. Gareth Barry then chested down another cross from Nasri for Dzeko to turn and shoot but again Howard was alert.
Controversy followed the resulting corner as Dzeko tangled with Fellaini and went to ground. Referee Lee Probert sparked immediate protests from Everton by pointing to the spot, and Tevez made no mistake as he stepped up to score.
Whether or not Fellaini was unfairly penalized, he almost produced the perfect response in the final moments of the first half with a glancing header from Steven Pienaar's cross, but Hart saved. City upped the tempo at the start of the second half but again it took time before the chances came, aside from a shot from Tevez which was blocked by Phil Jagielka.
While Tevez also headed over, it was not until just after the hour that City seriously threatened again as Maicon burst down the field and forced Howard to parry a powerful 18-yard drive. City decided to freshen up their attack by sending on Sergio Aguero, but the crowd wasn't happy that it was Tevez he replaced and boos rang around the ground.
The game became scrappy as Everton's hard-working defense did their best to repel City's threat. Mario Balotelli replaced Dzeko and did inject some energy into the side, but sent his best effort wide.
Everton went close in stoppage time through Jelavic's free kick that Hart saved.