TIM HOWARD hailed the “raw emotion” of Everton’s return to winning ways after a heroic 10-man performance at the City of Manchester stadium.
The Blues held on for a vital 2-1 win over Manchester City, who were hoping for a victory to send them top of the league, despite seeing Victor Anichebe sent off with half an hour left.
Howard had to be at his magnificent best to deny rampant City, who had twice as much possession as the Blues and were only thwarted by a string of magnificent saves from the American.
The win, Everton’s first in eight games, sees them move up to 14th in the Premier League, and start the crucial festive period with a morale-boosting victory against Roberto Mancini’s expensively assembled Champions League contenders.
And Howard said the away side’s euphoric reaction at full-time, was partly due to their faltering form in the run up to the game.
He said: “It was a raw reaction at the end. That was pure emotion for us, and we said in the dressing room that it was weird how good that felt.
“We’ve beaten a few top teams over the years, but this felt really good. I can’t put my finger on it but you saw at the end what it meant to us.
“Maybe it was the cold, maybe because they could have gone top of the league, but you saw what it meant to us.
“We just seem to do well at certain places and this is one of them. It’s a big pitch.
“And there’s a good atmosphere. We had that belief here because of past good results and we’ve only had to come up the road.”
Howard (right) helped the Toffees cling on despite Phil Jagielka’s unfortunate 73rd-minute own goal, but Manchester City could be forgiven for wondering how they failed to find an equaliser at times.
He said: “It felt like there were 20 light blue shirts out there. Then we got a man sent off and they overloaded the wings. It was so tough. They are so talented in attack anyway, and we found it difficult, but that probably added to the feel-good factor because it was such a determined performance.”
Howard, 31, is now hoping Everton can turn their season around by using last night’s victory as a springboard to pick up points fast over Christmas.
He said: “If you are performing well over Christmas is a great chance to pick up points in a short period of time.
“You’re not training as much, and you can just get in the flow of playing the 90 minutes, feeling fresh and going again.
“We don’t lack quality, which is why when things aren’t going so well you scratch your head because we’ve got talented players.
“We’ve got endeavour and hard work too, but we need to bring that every single week for 90 minutes and until we do that it won’t be good enough.”