Everton 1 Manchester City 2
British transfer record signing Robinho inspired Manchester City to a 2-1 win at Everton for their first Barclays Premier League away victory since August.
The £32.5million Brazilian scored a 35th-minute opener after racing on to Elano’s through ball and then turned provider for Stephen Ireland nine minutes after half-time.
Substitute Dan Gosling fired an injury-time consolation but it could not prevent City’s first win at Goodison Park since October 1992 and ended a run of three successive away defeats for Mark Hughes’ side.
Considering City’s form on the road eight points from 16 matches prior to this one and their history on this ground few would have predicted this result.
But with Robinho finally putting in a performance outside of his Eastlands comfort zone the visitors were rarely troubled.
It took just eight minutes for the Brazilian to open his box of tricks, with six successive stepovers bamboozling Tony Hibbert before the City forward spoiled it by going down too easily in the penalty area.
The first shot on target came from Everton when a neat interchange between Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini released Louis Saha down the left and he cut inside but curled a shot too close to Shay Given.
Expectant home fans, with an FA Cup final to look forward to, became increasingly frustrated as on two separate occasions the ball was fizzed across the six-yard area with no Everton player anywhere near it.
There was almost greater cause for concern in the 25th minute when Elano’s shot was blocked by Leighton Baines but only as far as Robinho, whose curling shot seemed destined for the top corner before it was batted away by Tim Howard.
And it was Baines who saved them again as Ireland raced through the centre to collect Felipe Caicedo’s pass, the left-back quickly getting across to cover on the edge of the area.
But the defender could do nothing to prevent City taking the lead in the 35th minute.
Hibbert’s hopeful ball forward was headed down by Nedum Onuoha and Elano’s brilliant first-time pass sent compatriot Robinho racing down the wing and he left Phil Jagielka trailing as he fired through Howard’s legs.
The Everton goalkeeper then had to be quick out of his area to clear the ball under pressure from the Brazilian as the visitors grew in confidence.
Five minutes after the interval Given produced a brilliant close-range save to deny Fellaini.
Hibbert’s initial cross sailed over the Belgian but Pienaar collected on the left of the penalty area and rolled it back to his team-mate who flicked it up, spun and volleyed goalwards only to see his effort tipped over.
Just as Everton seemed to be gaining a foothold in the game they conceded a second courtesy of a swift 54th-minute counterattack.
When the ball was played up to Caicedo there appeared to be no danger but he laid it off to Robinho wide on the left and with the defence pulled over to one side no-one apart from the Brazilian spotted the on-rushing Ireland.
Robinho clipped the ball into the gaping space in front of the penalty area and Ireland calmly controlled before slotting a low shot into the corner.
The Brazilian was clearly enjoying himself by now and when Ireland returned the favour inside the area Robinho’s improvised flick forced Howard into a one-handed save.
On the hour Fellaini claimed he had been fouled by Vincent Kompany in the penalty area from Hibbert’s long throw but referee Alan Wiley turned down his appeals.
The Belgium international and Saha were immediately replaced by Dan Gosling and James Vaughan.
Worryingly, with the FA Cup final a month away, Jagielka was carried off on a stretcher after falling awkwardly and injuring his left knee.
Everton boss David Moyes sent on Tim Cahill and dropped Phil Neville into central defence.
That signalled the start of unpleasantness as the Australia midfielder was immediately involved in a confrontation with Kompany and then Elano was booked for scything down Pienaar.
Baines appealed for a penalty when his cross hit Richard Dunne but the defender’s arm was well behind him and he could clearly do nothing about it.
Seven minutes of injury time allowed Gosling to fire home a consolation but that only increased the frustration for Everton and Moyes, on his 46th birthday.