Blues keeper: "In big games, you need big calls to go your way"
Tim Howard pointed the finger at the officials after Everton’s unbeaten Premier League start was brought to a shuddering halt.
Roberto Martinez suffered his first top-flight defeat as Goodison manager when his side suffered a 3-1 loss at Manchester City on Saturday.
Everton were in the game until City’s third goal, a penalty from Sergio Aguero that Howard turned on to the post but couldn’t prevent rebounding over the line off the back of his head.
The visitors were furious the spot kick had been awarded after Pablo Zabaleta went to ground following slight contact from Seamus Coleman, not least as a more obvious foul by Matija Nastasic on Romelu Lukaku inside the area had earlier gone unpunished.
In pictures: City 3 Everton 1
And Howard believes Everton did not enjoy the rub of the green throughout the match from referee Jon Moss and his assistants.
“It was a soft penalty,” said the United States international goalkeeper. “But in the build up to that, City won a corner and it should have been given as a handball by Aguero. It wasn’t intentional but it was there for the linesman to see.
“Unfortunately, that leads to bad things. Those calls need to go right. The fact it was down the City end, sometimes referees are influenced by those things. I don’t think it was right.
“It was one of those days. On another day, maybe the penalty stays out but it hit me and went in.
“At 2-1 we are still in the game. But once it goes to 3-1, it kills it off. That was always the danger as we had to commit players forward.”
When asked if the penalty decision was one of a few decision to go against Everton, Howard responded: “Only a few?! Both teams would have been a bit upset at times, though. There weren’t many good things as far as that was concerned.
“In big games, you need big calls to go your way. Or at least you need a balance. And we didn’t get that.”
City full-back Zabaleta admits it was a “silly” penalty for Everton to concede but insists the relative lack of reaction from Martinez’s men suggest they had no real quarrel with the decision.
“Yes, I think there was a small contact,” said Zabaleta. “It was maybe a silly penalty (to give away from Everton’s point of view).
“I watched it again in the dressing room and there was a small contact. It was maybe a little bit soft but it was a penalty.
“I was goal-side of him and he pushed me away a little bit with his arm. I can understand why he was a little bit disappointed but the Everton players weren’t angry with me.
“I’ve been talking to Leighton Baines after the game and he accepted there had been small contact.”
Zabaleta also praised Baines for preventing him from becoming the 10th name in referee Moss’s notebook of a simmering if never truly bad-tempered encounter.
“Late in the game, Baines tried to save me from a booking after I tackled him,” said the City defender.
“He told the referee I had got a contact on the ball and I like that. It’s good to have that sort of conversation with your opponents.”