Everton have pulled off a sensational win over league leaders Manchester City thanks to a Darron Gibson goal on the hour mark – in front of new signing Nikica Jelavic.
It was a stunning backs to the wall performance from an Everton side so depleted in defence that Tony Hibbert was moved to centre-half to partner John Heitinga, as David Moyes opted to leave the inexperienced Shane Duffy on the bench.
Man City dominated possession throughout the first half, but it was Everton who had the best chance of the opening exchanges. A Donovan corner was floated to the back post, Stracqualursi powered a header down and Lescott was forced to clear off his goal line.
Everton rarely threatened the goal again in the first 45 minutes, but neither did Manchester City. Despite the millions of pounds worth of talent on show they did nothing more than huff and puff in possession without blowing the house down, with David Silva and Edin Dzeko having notably below-par performances.
Everton, meanwhile, saw sterling individual performances across the pitch which combined to make a quite unbelievable team effort. The Toffees closed down in packs, rekindling memories of Joe Royle´s Dogs of War at various times – such as the three man crowding of David Silva to earn the small but priceless reward of a throw in.
And we got our just rewards on the hour mark. Determination, organisation and sheer passion all paid off when Drenthe picked the ball up, galloped through the middle of the pitch, laid off for Baines who sent in a cross, flicked on at the near post, the ball travelled to the back for Donovan who controlled, laid off for Darron Gibson who smashed the ball in with the help of a wicked deflection from Gareth Barry, beyond Joe Hart who didn´t move.
The final half hour was as tense as anything Everton has seen since Bayern Munich in the 1980´s, but there was a sense that it was our night, in front of a buoyant crowd who were roaring on the lads in blue in unison all night.
No negativity tonight – Everton were brilliant, the fans were brilliant, the goal was brilliant. Even Tony Hibbert in defence was brilliant.
Everton beat the league leaders, and it´s by far and away the best moment of the 2011/12 season for every Evertonian in the world.
Man of the Match: Tony HIBBERT