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Romelu Lukaku continued his sensational season in front of goal as his header helped Everton to a thrilling 2-1 win over Manchester City in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final at Goodison Park.
In what was an attacking and entertaining encounter, the hosts took the lead through Ramiro Funes Mori on the stroke of half-time. City hit-back through Jesus Navas with 14 minutes remaining, but Lukaku pounced two minutes later to secure a deserved first leg lead for the home side.
City started brightly as they dominated possession but they were unable to really threaten the Everton goal and they had to wait until the 24th minute for their first real chance.
From a corner, Nicolas Otamendi rose highest at the near post but he headed past the past from six yards.
Everton reacted well to the early pressure and they began to come into the game as an attacking force with Deulofeu, Lukaku and Barkley all causing City problems.
And the hosts looked to have taken the lead five minutes before the break when John Stones and then Lukaku had the ball in the net, but both efforts were correctly ruled out for offside.
However, there was no flag in first half injury time when Ramiro Funes Mori fired Everton in-front.
From a corner, the ball was only half cleared to Ross Barkley on the edge of the box. The midfielder controlled and hit a thumping strike that was parried by Willy Caballero and it was Funes Mori who reacted quickest to slot home to send his side in 1-0 up at the break.
The second half started much like the first had finished with Everton in the ascendency.
And they went close again five minutes after the break when Barkley drilled a brilliant low ball across the face of goal that was just inches ahead of Lukaku.
It was all Everton after this and they threatened again when Deulofeu skipped into the area and curled a cross to the back post that was clawed away by a back-pedalling Cabellero.
The hosts were well on top, but they were almost made pay for their missed chances on the hour mark when the ball fell to Aguero inside six-yard box, but the striker fluffed his lines and blasted wide when he really should have scored.
The game was wide open at this stage as both sides continued to press men forward and it was the visitors who threatened again with 20 minutes remaining.
Kevin de Bruyne played a quick one two with Aguero on the edge of the box, before the Belgian hit a curling effort that was brilliant tipped around the post by Robles in the home goal.
However, there was nothing the keeper could do five minutes later when City equalised with a sublime breakaway goal.
From an Everton corner, Otamendi cleared to Aguero on the halfway line. The Argentine controlled brilliantly on the halfway line and raced clear before slipping in Jesus Navas who calmly slotted home to make it 1-1.
This parity didn’t last long, though, as Everton retook the lead almost immediately. Gareth Barry whipped in a pin-point cross that was met by Lukaku and he powered home a head to make it 2-1.
City threw men forward in the final ten minutes as they looked to salvage a draw from the game, but they really failed to threaten Robles as Everton held on to take a deserved lead to the Etihad for the second-leg.