Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini admitted his team were outplayed by Everton after their 2-0 defeat at Everton.
Everton were good value for their victory and sealed the points in the first 45 minutes of the Premier League contest at Goodison Park thanks to goals from Steven Pienaar and Louis Saha with a penalty.
Mancini had to taste defeat for the first time in five games since taking charge. "I think that Everton played better than us,'' the former Inter Milan coach told ESPN. "That's football and it can happen.
"I think it's important we played well, but Everton played better than us. You can't win always. Let's hope this is our last (loss).''
City were forced to make an early change when Roque Santa Cruz, who has been troubled by knee problems, limped off and was replaced by Robinho, who was later replaced himself. And Mancini bemoaned his side's injury misfortune.
He added: "We are unlucky, Santa Cruz was injured after five minutes. He was our most important player. We have a lot of problems with injuries and have to play always the same players and they are so tired. I changed Robinho because you can't play with five strikers.''
Marouane Fellaini put in a man-of-match-performance and Everton manager David Moyes reserved special praise for the Belgium midfielder. "When I said a few weeks back that he was as good as anyone in the league people looked at me as if I was losing my marbles,'' he said. "But anyone who was watching today can see that I'm right.''
Moyes was delighted with his players' performance and is confident they can continue to improve. He added: "I've been thinking for a few weeks it was coming but even with a two-goal lead you're always wary against a team of City's quality. But the players did a great job in second half and should have added even more.''
He continued: "I've been miserable because we've not been winning. But we've been playing well and a lot of them are coming into form and coming back. When we've got them all back I think we're as good as anyone in the league. We worried them all day. We were always there and there were some outstanding performances.''