Everton keep eye on Champions League

Phil Jagielka believes a convincing defeat of Manchester City is evidence that Everton have what it takes to pip Liverpool in the battle for the final Champions League qualifying spot.

Midfielder Jagielka has been outstanding for David Moyes’s side in recent weeks and impressed again in Monday night’s 2-0 win at the City of Manchester Stadium.

”It was a massive result, looking how tight the table is and coming to a place like here, where they’ve been fantastic at home,” Jagielka said after a victory that lifted Everton back into the top four at their Merseyside rivals’ expense.

First-half goals from Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Joleon Lescott sealed the win for Everton and Jagielka added: ”Obviously the second half they put pressure on us but we have some decent defenders and others willing to muck in.

”It’s important to keep fourth place if we can and if we can finish there it will have been a massive season for us.

”Every point from now until the end of the season matters; it is six-pointers every week.

”If we can keep our performances like tonight [Monday] we should be there or thereabouts.”

The win also sent Everton six points clear of Manchester City and, on this evidence, Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side will struggle to get their own bid to join Europe’s elite back on track.

City, who finished the match with ten men after Martin Petrov received a late red card, were a pale imitation of the side that beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in their last league outing.

Everton could easily have won more comfortably had referee Rob Styles not waved away a couple of good penalty appeals, both the result of Micah Richards handling the ball inside the area.

Everton had spurned a string of good chances by the time Darius Vassell produced City’s first shot on target after a one-two with Gelson Fernandes in the 16th minute.

So it was no surprise when the visitors took the lead on the half-hour mark, Yakubu stabbing home his 16th goal of the season after good work by Cahill in the box.

The second goal came when midfielder Lee Carsley sent in a superb cross to the back post and England defender Lescott got there ahead of Richard Dunne to head his side into what was to prove an unassailable lead.

After the break, Everton continued to dominate. Phil Neville blasted a good shooting chance high and a Carsley free-kick provoked a fine save from Joe Hart before Petrov was dismissed in stoppage time for aiming a petulant kick at Leon Osman.

Eriksson said the red card was harsh on the Bulgarian winger. ”Some minutes before that [sending off] he did something, so that way I can understand it, but when it happened I didn’t think it was a red card.

”It was not a kick, more like a tap but the referee thought that was right.”

Everton boss David Moyes praised his team’s performance.

”For us to take six points off City this season is really good. To get 50 points at this stage of the season is fantastic and we have to keep building on it.” — Sapa-AFP

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