Manchester City took a significant step towards claiming the Premier League title as they returned to the top of the table on goal difference with victory at Everton.

Liverpool were looking to their neighbours to do them a favour and beat City - and their hopes were briefly raised when Ross Barkley's spectacular early strike put Everton ahead.

Pellegrini praises Man City character

City gathered their forces and goals from Sergio Aguero, who then went off with a groin injury, and Edin Dzeko put them ahead before the interval.

Bosnia striker Dzeko's second gave City a measure of comfort but Romelu Lukaku's header left them with an anxious last 25 minutes before they closed out a win that gives the perfect platform for their final home games against Aston Villa and West Ham.

Manuel Pellegrini's side were nowhere near their best, and were reduced to some fairly blatant time-wasting near the end, but it was about getting the job done and this was mission accomplished.

It was a disappointing conclusion to Everton's fine first season under manager Roberto Martinez as their Champions League hopes were finally snuffed out in the battle with Arsenal, but they are now certain to finish fifth and claim the deserved reward of a return to Europe in the Europa League.

Race for the Premier League title

Liverpool Chelsea Man City

Mon 5 May: Crystal Palace (a)

Sun 4 May: Norwich (h)

Wed 7 May: Aston Villa (h)

Sun 11 May: Newcastle (h)

Sun 11 May: Cardiff (a)

Sun 11 May: West Ham (h)

The pressure now switches to Liverpool and their difficult trip to Crystal Palace on Monday night, knowing City's result puts their fate outside their own hands barring some extraordinary goalscoring feats.

Much had been made of Everton's motivation to win, given that victory would lend such assistance to rivals Liverpool - but no-one could mistake Barkley's intent as he scored a magnificent opener after 11 minutes.

Leighton Baines and Steven Naismith played a part, but all the credit must go to Barkley as he curled an instinctive finish high past City goalkeeper Joe Hart from 25 yards.

Martinez 'proud' of Everton players

Barkley troubled City again with another surging run that had Everton appealing for a penalty as he tangled with Vincent Kompany but referee Lee Probert was not interested.

City, who had been pedestrian so far, were suddenly prompted into life and were soon level as Aguero picked up Yaya Toure's pass and beat Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard at his near post.

It was the Argentine's last action as he limped off with what looked like a groin muscle injury, a concern for both club and country with two vital title games and a World Cup to come.

City's fab four

  • Manchester City quartet Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero have only started eight games together all season. Of those, City won seven and drew one.

Fernandinho came on and City finally settled, taking the lead just before half-time when Dzeko rose to meet James Milner's cross and head past Howard, who moved late and was beaten low down.

Barkley was at the heart of all Everton's best moves and he almost created an equaliser right after the break with another surging run before setting up Naismith, who forced a vital fingertip save from Hart.

The importance of that save was emphasised seconds later when Dzeko stabbed home Samir Nasri's cross from six yards. The scenes of celebration on the City bench told the tale.

Everton were struggling to impose themselves on City but gave themselves - and Liverpool - hope with 25 minutes left when poor marking allowed the previously dreadful Lukaku to send a diving header past Hart via the post from Baines' cross.

From looking so comfortable, City suddenly looked uneasy and there was fury among the home fans when Dzeko lay motionless for minutes, without the medical team being called on, before finally getting to his feet and receiving a yellow card.

Ross Barkley

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley celebrates his spectacular opening goal against Manchester City

Barkley was at it again in the closing minutes, releasing substitute Gerard Deulofeu in the area but his shot was blocked by Hart's legs at the near post.

It was City's final moment of concern as they played out six minutes of stoppage time to clinch only their second win at Goodison in 15 visits. But more importantly for City it edged them closer to the title.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez: "There is a moment when Sergio [Aguero] is coming to the side and is trying to come off as he was feeling an injury and the next action he gets into a good position which leads to a goal [City's first].

"We were in total control and for us it was disappointing to concede that goal out of a bit of confusion with a player who needs to come off.

"The first chance of the second half, Joe Hart made the save of the season. They went to the other end and we conceded a goal in a very important moment - I thought that was the turning point."

For a gallery of photos from Saturday's Premier League action, head to the BBC Sport Facebook page. 

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (5)

Everton

  • 24 Howard
  • 26 Stones
  • 06 Jagielka (Deulofeu - 66' )
  • 32 Alcaraz
  • 16 McCarthy
  • 23 Coleman
  • 21 Osman (McGeady - 83' )
  • 03 Baines
  • 17 Lukaku
  • 20 Barkley
  • 14 Naismith

Substitutes

  • 01 Robles
  • 02 Hibbert
  • 07 McGeady
  • 10 Deulofeu
  • 15 Distin
  • 29 Garbutt
  • 46 Ledson

Manchester City

  • 01 Hart
  • 26 Demichelis Booked
  • 22 Clichy
  • 04 Kompany
  • 05 Zabaleta
  • 08 Nasri (Silva - 74' )
  • 42 Y Touré (Kolarov - 66' )
  • 07 Milner
  • 14 Javi García Booked
  • 16 Agüero (Fernandinho - 28' )
  • 10 Dzeko Booked

Substitutes

  • 06 Lescott
  • 09 Negredo
  • 13 Kolarov
  • 21 Silva
  • 25 Fernandinho
  • 30 Pantilimon
  • 35 Jovetic
Ref: Lee Probert
Att: 39,454

Match Stats

Shots

9 18

On target

4 6

Corners

4 3

Fouls

3 9

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Everton 2, Manchester City 3.

90:00 +6:53 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Everton 2, Manchester City 3.

90:00 +4:06

Foul by Aiden McGeady (Everton).

90:00 +4:06

Fernandinho (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90:00 +1:10

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by John Stones.

90:00 +1:09

Attempt blocked. David Silva (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Edin Dzeko.

90:00 +0:04

Foul by James McCarthy (Everton).

90:00 +0:04

Edin Dzeko (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

86:43

Corner, Everton. Conceded by Joe Hart.

86:42

Attempt saved. Gerard Deulofeu (Everton) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the centre of the goal.

82:49

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

82:47 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Everton. Aiden McGeady replaces Leon Osman.

82:25 Booking

Booking Edin Dzeko (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

80:30

Delay in match Edin Dzeko (Manchester City) because of an injury.

78:24

Ross Barkley (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

78:24

Foul by Edin Dzeko (Manchester City).

74:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Manchester City. David Silva replaces Samir Nasri.

71:18

Attempt blocked. Martín Demichelis (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

71:16

Attempt missed. Edin Dzeko (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by James Milner with a cross.

71:06

Attempt missed. Fernandinho (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Samir Nasri with a cross following a corner.

70:31

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Antolin Alcaraz.

70:29

Attempt blocked. Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Samir Nasri.

70:21

Attempt saved. Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Samir Nasri.

69:13

James McCarthy (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

69:13

Foul by Samir Nasri (Manchester City).

66:35

Leighton Baines (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

66:35

Foul by Fernandinho (Manchester City).

65:59 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Everton. Gerard Deulofeu replaces Phil Jagielka.

65:50 Booking

Booking Martín Demichelis (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card.

65:15 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Manchester City. Aleksandar Kolarov replaces Yaya Touré because of an injury.

64:23 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Everton 2, Manchester City 3. Romelu Lukaku (Everton) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Leighton Baines with a cross.

61:55

Offside, Everton. Steven Naismith tries a through ball, but Romelu Lukaku is caught offside.

53:09

Corner, Everton. Conceded by Vincent Kompany.

53:07

Attempt blocked. Ross Barkley (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Seamus Coleman.

50:07

Attempt blocked. Romelu Lukaku (Everton) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ross Barkley.

48:12

Offside, Everton. Seamus Coleman tries a through ball, but Romelu Lukaku is caught offside.

47:17 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Everton 1, Manchester City 3. Edin Dzeko (Manchester City) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Samir Nasri with a cross.

45:50

Corner, Everton. Conceded by Joe Hart.

45:49

Attempt saved. Steven Naismith (Everton) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ross Barkley with a through ball.

45:38

Attempt blocked. James Milner (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fernandinho.

45:00

Second Half begins Everton 1, Manchester City 2.

45:00 +3:01 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Everton 1, Manchester City 2.

45:00 +2:03

Attempt missed. Romelu Lukaku (Everton) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high. Assisted by John Stones with a cross.

42:48 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Everton 1, Manchester City 2. Edin Dzeko (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by James Milner with a cross.

42:40

Attempt saved. Edin Dzeko (Manchester City) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Fernandinho with a through ball.

42:05

Attempt missed. Steven Naismith (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Leon Osman.

39:41

Foul by Steven Naismith (Everton).

39:41

Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

38:50 Booking

Booking Javi García (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card.

36:20

Offside, Everton. John Stones tries a through ball, but Romelu Lukaku is caught offside.

35:08

Attempt missed. Samir Nasri (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Javi García.

33:32

Steven Naismith (Everton) wins a free kick on the left wing.

33:32

Foul by Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City).

32:13

Steven Naismith (Everton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

32:13

Foul by Javi García (Manchester City).

31:49

Attempt blocked. Yaya Touré (Manchester City) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Samir Nasri.

29:13

Seamus Coleman (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

29:13

Foul by Fernandinho (Manchester City).

27:55

Corner, Everton. Conceded by Edin Dzeko.

27:25

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

27:25 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Manchester City. Fernandinho replaces Sergio Agüero because of an injury.

25:43

Delay in match Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) because of an injury.

25:12

Steven Naismith (Everton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

25:12

Foul by Martín Demichelis (Manchester City).

23:41

Leon Osman (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

23:41

Foul by Sergio Agüero (Manchester City).

21:33 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Everton 1, Manchester City 1. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Yaya Touré.

17:09

Foul by Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City).

17:09

Steven Naismith (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

15:52

Attempt missed. Yaya Touré (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Samir Nasri.

13:10

Attempt missed. Yaya Touré (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Samir Nasri.

10:06 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Everton 1, Manchester City 0. Ross Barkley (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Steven Naismith.

9:15

Attempt missed. Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high. Assisted by Sergio Agüero.

8:30

Attempt saved. Javi García (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Samir Nasri with a cross.

8:05

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Phil Jagielka.

5:04

Attempt missed. Steven Naismith (Everton) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Leighton Baines.

3:23

Attempt blocked. Javi García (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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