Roberto Martinez’s team now hold the advantage in the Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester City.
Everton’s Romelu Lukaku’s late goal gave impressive Everton a first-leg advantage at Goodison Park on 6 January 2016, even if Manchester City will point to a penalty that never was.
City looked to have secured a draw with 14 minutes left, after Jesus Navas finished a sweeping counter-attack following brilliant work by Sergio Aguero.
Navas’ equaliser cancelled out Ramiro Funes Mori’s opener for Everton on the stroke of half-time.
Argentine Funes Mori pounced after Willy Caballero saved Ross Barkley’s shot – although City were nursing an understandable sense of injustice with Lukaku standing in an offside position in front of the keeper.
Roberto Martinez’s Everton refused to be sunk by Navas’ goal and responded within two minutes, Lukaku heading in his 12th goal in 12 games (19th of the season) from ex-City Gareth Barry’s perfect cross.
Pellegrini was adamant Everton’s opening goal should have been disallowed for offside and that Navas should have had a penalty for a clip from Kevin Mirallas. “Everton’s first goal was absolutely offside and it was a clear penalty when Jesus Navas was fouled”, Pellegrini said.
“I didn’t speak to the referee after the game – they were both clear. To lose 2-1 is a bad result but it just means we have to win 1-0 at home. I still think we are able to play in the Capital One Cup final”, he concluded.
City were largely subdued away from home and there could be little complaint at the outcome. Everton ended with 10 men after Seamus Coleman limped off with all three substitutes deployed.
However there was no late attack from a visiting team who, with Fernando replacing Kevin De Bruyne, appeared content to settle for 1-2.
The tantalising prospect of an all-Merseyside final between Everton and Liverpool is still closer to reality than fiction.