Everton 1 Manchester City 0
Everton’s resurgence continued thanks to a scrambled David Weir goal as a fired-up Joey Barton fought in vain to inspire the Manchester City team-mates around him.
Barton pointedly walked towards the City supporters, applauding them and clutching the badge on his shirt at the end of the match.
The midfielder, who asked to leave the club this week, did not deserve to be on the losing team, but as a unit City did not do enough to prevent Everton stretching their unbeaten run to nine games.
Barton showed the passion his manager Stuart Pearce had asked for, but an early Weir goal, his first of the season, maintained Everton’s impressive start to the year.
City were dreadful in the first half, Barton apart, and Everton took advantage.
By the time City had bucked their ideas up – and Stephen Jordan had been sent off – it was too late to change the course of this match.
James Beattie returned to lead the Everton attack after missing two games with a calf injury. And that was the only change for the Toffees from the starting line-up who drew at Wigan in midweek, with James McFadden dropping to the bench.
City gave new Greek striker Georgios Samaras his full debut, while Barton was subjected to the angry voices of some travelling supporters after his refusal to sign the new contract offered by the Eastlands club.
A banner reading ‘greedy, greedy Barton’ was hung from the City fans’ enclosure, only to be removed by a steward to cheers from the visiting support who chanted Barton’s name. Views remain mixed on the midfielder’s actions.
More concern for City was the space being afforded to Leon Osman by Kiki Musampa, playing in a central midfield role rather than his usual position on the flanks.
On two minutes Osman got in behind Musampa and raced into the box to see a rising shot cannon off the bar.
And Everton were soon ahead. Mikel Arteta’s seventh-minute corner was met in the box by Tim Cahill whose downward header was weakly nodded away by Richard Dunne, but only as far as Weir who deflected the ball past David James from a couple of yards.
City looked lethargic and Everton swarmed all over them. One long clearance from Richard Wright was allowed to bounce by Dunne and James had to come out of his box in an attempt to clear.
James missed the ball, however, and fortunately for the goalkeeper Dunne was able to shepherd it a couple of yards wide.
City were penned in their own half, allowing Everton plenty of possession.
It took City until the 32nd minute to get in their first shot, Sylvain Distin providing Musampa with a pass which saw him send a low drive wide.
Barton then fired in a cross in from the left, Darius Vassell got a touch on it back to Trevor Sinclair, and he ballooned a shot high over the bar.
Then Sun Jihai sent in a cross from the right and Vassell saw a header from six yards drop wide of the far post.
City boss Stuart Pearce headed into half-time with a face like thunder, and his frustration was clearly communicated to a team who improved after the break.
Jordan was booked after 55 minutes for bringing down Arteta, before City came close to an equaliser when Samaras powered a fine header inches over from Barton’s left-wing corner.
Then Pearce took off Albert Riera and replaced him with Andy Cole. Samaras moved to the left and helped create a fine opening for Musampa, who saw an 18-yard shot caught by Wright.
Compared to the first half, Everton had been quiet, but Cahill did get in on the left to lash a dipping drive over the far angle. Barton was then booked for a foul on Cahill.
Trevor Sinclair, Vassell and Samaras all had shots during a mad scramble in Everton’s six-yard box, but the danger was eventually averted.
City threw on Antoine Sibierski and Bradley Wright-Phillips for Samaras and Vassell after 76 minutes.
Three minutes later Everton replaced Beattie and sent on McFadden, with Simon Davies taking over from Osman four minutes later.
Jordan was ordered off two minutes from the end. After walking a fine line with a succession of fouls, he finally received a second yellow card – then red - to reduce City to 10 men.
Richard Dunne was booked a minute later after a foul on Davies, but City were now shattered and Everton were heading ever closer to the top half of the table.