Everton’s final home game of the season ended in a 2-3 defeat at the hands of title-chasing Manchester City who moved to the top of the Premier League.
Ross Barkley gave the Toffees the lead on 11 minutes with a spectacular 25-yard strike which put paid to any suggestions that Everton would roll over so as to avoid handing Liverpool championship impetus.
But Sergio Aguero pulled City level after 22 minutes with a thumping near post shot and Edin Dzeko turned the game around minutes before half-time with a header.
Dzeko added his second soon after the re-start after Samir Nasri crossed, with Everton’s defence in disarray. But Roberto Martinez’s side took advantage of their own tinkering and pulled a second back through a Romelu Lukaku header.
Everton continued to press for an equaliser but City hung on for three points which puts them top of the Premier League on goal difference.
Howard- 5- shame that the American’s final home performance of his best season in years was below-par. Should have done better to protect his near post when Aguero smashed in the equaliser and was slow in reacting to Dzeko’s first goal which was headed into the ground.
Jagielka- 6- a little shaky at times after 10 weeks out with a hamstring injury. Wasn’t quite up to speed and was substituted in the second half.
Alcaraz- 5- as cool as Lipton Ice Tea with the ball at his feet, but the Paraguayan seems to lack the awareness during important defensive moments. Lost Dzeko for both goals.
Stones- 7- the youngest centre half of an initial three was the stand-out performer, starting on the right of a central Jagielka. One or two times he lost the ball trying to play out from the back but he should not be discouraged. Excellent positional sense and got forward too.
Baines- 8- started higher up in a wing-back role and was involved in Everton’s best attacks early on. Played a purposeful and accurate ball into Naismith’s feet who laid off for Barkley to open the scoring. Also crossed wonderfully for Lukaku to head in the second.
Coleman- 7- took up the wing back position on the right and showed great skill and intent. Seemed a little unsure of his role towards the end of the first half when Everton appeared to change to a flat back four, with Coleman making up a midfield three but was a worry for Clichy on that side.
McCarthy- 7- Everton may have missed the presence of Barry but McCarthy wasn’t found sulking without his usual midfield partner. Was his tough-tackling and busy self, but may have just come up short against a dominant Yaya Toure in the first half.
Osman- 6- showed a tidy range of passing when Everton had possession in their own half, keeping the ball moving which had City chasing but the diminutive midfielder was understandably over-shadowed by Toure who in full-stride was almost unstoppable.
Barkley- 9- quite simply his best performance of the season. The youngster has had a tendency to fade somewhat after a big showing with but he showed the watching Roy Hodgson why he should be on the plane to Brazil. Came up with a stunning opening goal and had City on the back foot with a number of surging runs at break-neck pace. Sublime moment when he ran the length of the pitch, evading white shirts with ease before slipping the ball through to Naismith who came inches away from an equaliser. Man of the Match
Naismith- 7- a good show from the Scot. Always does the simple things really well and his assist for Barkley’s goal summed him up. Came off his marker to receive the ball, laid it off to Barkley with his first touch and had already ran round his marker to run into the space. Couldn’t have come closer to an equaliser in the second half, with Joe Hart pulling off a save which was arguably the game’s turning point when Dzeko scored his side’s third immediately after.
Lukaku- 6- took his goal really well but again the Belgian seemed to be going through the motions. Was often found popping up in the wrong areas out wide, meaning there was no target when the cross eventually came. Probably the last time we’ll see Lukaku at Goodison in the blue of Everton- nice that he signed off with a goal.
Deulofeu- 7- very bright performance when he came on for Jagielka on 66 minutes. Always looking to beat his man and one mazy run into the box ended with Hart pulling off a near-post save.
McGeady- 6- came on for Osman for the last seven minutes and showed his attacking intent with a couple of one-on-one’s which ended in the Irishman crossing from wide. His ability to make the ball stick to his feet at pace mean he’s sure to be a fans favourite next year after a full pre-season.