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Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010

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Staying put: Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez decides to remain at the Premier League club after holding talks with team officials. AP PHOTO

Man City striker Tevez backs off on transfer wish

MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez withdrew his transfer request on Monday following "clear-the-air talks" that the club hopes will remove any instability as it chases the Premier League title.

City announced that Tevez's contract, which has 3 1/2 years to run, remains unchanged and that the Argentina international has "expressed his absolute commitment to the club."

Tevez retained the captaincy for Monday's game against Everton and received a warm reception from the home fans, but could not prevent his side from slipping to a 2-1 loss that leaves City third, two points behind leader Manchester United.

Tim Howard made a series of outstanding saves in the second half, helping Everton to an upset win that prevented the hosts from what would have been their first league lead at Christmas since 1929.

Howard tipped away a free kick from Aleksander Kolarov in the first half. Then in the 77th, Mario Balotelli's clipped shot off a Yaya Toure pass richocheted off a post to Carlos Tevez, and Howard made an outstanding block. Howard also saved a shot from David Silva in the 89th.

Tim Cahill scored off a pass from Seamus Coleman in the fourth minute and Leighton Baines doubled the lead in the 19th for the Toffees, who overcame the 60th minute-ejection of Victor Anichebe for his second yellow card. Manchester City's Pablo Zabaleta was off the field for the second goal while receiving four stitches in his head following a collision with Cahill,

Manchester City (9-4-5) has 32 points, two behind Premier League leader Manchester United (9-0-7), and it trails Arsenal (10-5-2) on goal difference. With its second road win of the season, Everton (4-5-9) moved to 14th,

The defeat soured the mood at Eastlands following the earlier news that Tevez, the club's top scorer and highest paid player, had had a dramatic change of heart.

Nine days previously, he rocked the club by demanding a move and claiming he had fallen out with Eastlands officials. Tevez's adviser also said the player was unhappy with the team's failure to qualify for the Champions League this season.

City, though, believed the transfer request — which it immediately refused to sanction — was motivated by Tevez's desire to secure a more lucrative contract with the club he joined in 2009 from Manchester United.

Benitez speaks out

MILAN , Italy (AP) Rafa Benitez dismissed speculation he's about to be fired from Inter Milan, saying Monday that he still has a "good relationship" with club President Massimo Moratti and is focused on improving the team after the winter break.

After Italian media reported that Moratti has decided to sack the Spaniard despite Inter winning the Club World Cup on Saturday, Benitez told Spanish radio station Onda Cero that "No, I have not been fired."

"I am surprised because I have seen a lot of headlines of newspapers and I have been phoned by a lot of people asking me if I have been fired, and that is not true at all," Benitez said from Liverpool, where he has gone on vacation.

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