related stories
Blame me for Everton defeat, says Manchester City boss Roberto ManciniWhat Manchester City fans can expect to see from new signing David PizarroManchester United sign Manchester City starlet Freddie Veseli?
score centre
Premier LeagueLa LigaSerie ABundesligaChampions LeagueLive Matches

Darron Gibson gave former club Manchester United a massive boost in their bid to keep their Premier League crown with a dream first Everton goal.

The midfielder left Old Trafford earlier last month, but his name was chanted at the ground after he cracked home the 20-yard winner that sunk City and saw United go level with Roberto Mancini’s side at the top.

After exits in the FA and Carling Cups, the title has now become City’s main – if not only – focus. They might be heartened to know the last eight champions have been the sides who topped the table at the start of February. But May is when it matters and they endured another rough ride at Everton to prove how difficult their task will be to stay in front.

The hosts almost led in the fourth minute when Royston Drenthe floated over a corner, City keeper Joe Hart was unsure and Denis Stracqualursi nodded the ball past him. But there was Joleon Lescott to head off the line and Vincent Kompany – back after his four-match ban – completed the clearance.

Amid the jeers, it was a rare enjoyable moment for Lescott on his return to Goodison Park. Criticised by David Moyes and despised by his former club’s followers after he forced a £22million move in 2009, the centre-back tasted defeat in last season’s encounter and aggression rather than affection has remained.

The strapping Stracqualursi was a handful and perhaps the Argentine wanted to send a message out to Everton’s new signing Nikica Jelavic. Stracqualursi has still to do that himself, but another clever knockdown from a Leighton Baines cross set up Marouane Fellaini for a good chance that he fired wide under pressure.

City weren’t allowed much room to manoeuvre – a bit like the idiot who handcuffed himself to Hart’s post to force a five-minute delay. But Mancini’s men are still able to conjure chances from nothing. David Silva slipped a pass to Micah Richards in the box and only a good block from Tim Howard denied the City defender.

Samir Nasri could then not have struck his 30-yard shot in the 37th minute more sweetly. It soared, it swerved but smashed against the bar. But that was as good as it got for City as Landon Donovan teed up Gibson on the hour and his drive deflected off Gareth Barry and past Hart for a goal that will be cheered by his old team-mates as much as his new ones.