Manchester City vs. Everton: Winners and Losers from Premier League
Everton produced a terrific defensive performance to earn a point at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday against Manchester City.
The defensive spine of Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori helped the Toffees earn a 0-0 draw at the home of the title contenders.
Manchester City dropped points in the title race with the draw, as Leicester City won at Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal drew at Liverpool.
The match was the second of three contests to be played between Everton and Manchester City in January. Everton take a 2-1 lead into the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final on January 27 in Manchester.
Here's a look at our winners and losers from the goalless Premier League match between the Toffees and Citizens.
Winner: Tim Howard
Thanks to the play of Tim Howard in net, Everton left the blue half of Manchester with a point and a clean sheet.
Howard, who hasn't been in great form this season for the Toffees, started his fantastic performance in the 18th minute as he dove to his left and kept out a header from Yaya Toure.
The next big denial from the American netminder came in the 65th minute, when he stuck out his right boot and stopped a shot from a cutting Raheem Sterling.
In the five minutes after his save on Sterling, Howard used strong positioning and every piece of his body to quell the threats posed by the hosts.
Howard ended the match with five saves, but more importantly, he restored his confidence in between net and kept the critical Everton fans silent.
Loser: Kevin De Bruyne
Even on a bad day, Kevin De Bruyne is expected to provide his teammates with one or two chances that they can convert on in the penalty area.
That was not the case for the 24-year-old Belgian winger on Wednesday, as the majority of his deliveries on set pieces were poor at best.
Manchester City had plenty of opportunities to benefit from set pieces against Everton, but they could not muster any solid chances. When City put pressure on the net, it was due to the strong buildup play led by Toure and others in the final third.
De Bruyne left the pitch in the 74th minute with 83 touches and six key passes, per WhoScored, but none of those special interactions created a much-needed goal for City.
Winners: Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori
Everton's center-back duo of Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori rarely made a wrong decision on Wednesday, as they secured a key point for the Toffees.
Despite facing an onslaught of pressure from Manchester City in the second half, the pair of central defenders found themselves in great position while fending off the likes of Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling.
In addition to their strong positioning, Jagielka and Funes Mori got in the way of plenty of shots. Although they were only credited with one blocked shot each, per WhoScored, they disrupted countless others and stopped City from getting clean looks on goal.
The impressive showing from the center-backs and the entire back four handed the Toffees a massive boost of confidence with some important matches ahead in January.
Loser: Romelu Lukaku
Everton failed to turn their defensive performance into three points because Romelu Lukaku was kept quiet in front of goal for 90 minutes.
Lukaku popped up on a few occasions, but he never sent a shot on target that challenged Joe Hart. The Belgian forward recorded four attempts, but none of them reached the City net.
The 22-year-old almost earned an assist in the 31st minute, but Leon Osman volleyed his pass across the box over the right side of the net.
In order for Everton to feel like they can truly contend with the big clubs in the Premier League, they must get goals out of someone like Lukaku while their defense stands firm on the other end of the pitch.
Winner: Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling almost won the game for Manchester City in the final minute of stoppage time, but his penalty claim was wrongfully denied by referee Roger East.
In the 93rd minute, Sterling burst down the left wing and got past John Stones. Stones slid in for a tackle and clipped the Man City winger, who proceeded to fall on the ground. But to the dismay of everyone wearing sky blue, the call was not made.
Earning a penalty would've been a great cap to the night Sterling had against Stones on the left wing. The 21-year-old England international got the best of his fellow countryman on a few occasions, but he was unable to connect with his teammates in the box.
Sterling's best delivery came in the 49th minute, when he sent a perfect ball into the penalty area. However, no one in a Manchester City shirt was anywhere to be seen, and the opportunity was wasted.
If Sterling is able to exploit Everton's deficiencies at full-back in two weeks at the Etihad Stadium, City may be able to get the best of the Toffees and advance to the Capital One Cup final.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.