Premier League
Man CityManchester City2Aston VillaAston Villa0

Man City 2-0 Aston Villa: Hard-earned win gives Pep Guardiola's brief run at top

By Chris BevanBBC Sport at Etihad Stadium

Late goals from Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan ended Aston Villa's resistance as Manchester City led Premier League for the first time this season - for a couple of hours before neighbours Manchester United regained top spot.

Pep Guardiola's side were knocked off the summit later on Wednesday when United beat Fulham, but the determination they showed to claim their sixth successive league win underlined that they are here to stay in this title race.

Villa's first team, playing their first game since New Year's Day because of a coronavirus outbreak at the club, showed no after-effects of their 19-day hiatus and produced a dogged defensive display.

They held out until the 79th minute, when Rodri controversially stole the ball off Tyrone Mings and fed Bernardo, who brilliantly fired into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Rodri was offside before he returned to an onside position to challenge Mings and Villa manager Dean Smith was sent off for his protests.

It meant he was not there to see Gundogan make sure of the points from the spot soon afterwards after Matty Cash handled a Gabriel Jesus header, in what was a far more straightforward decision for referee Jon Moss.

City's perseverance pays off

For long spells on a miserable night at Etihad Stadium it appeared that City's breakthrough would never come.

Guardiola praises 'brilliant' City and 'exceptional' Silva goal

Things might have been more straightforward for City had Bernardo converted from close range when a corner was headed into his path after four minutes, but instead Emiliano Martinez made a brave save at his feet and set the tone for a battling Villa performance.

City had 24 efforts at goal before Bernardo eventually broke the deadlock, but 12 of them were blocked and the closest they had come to a breakthrough was when Joao Cancelo's second-half shot bounced back off the bar.

Villa rode their luck, especially when Martinez denied John Stones from a corner and the ball somehow evaded Gundogan when he appeared certain to follow up and score, but they also had chances of their own.

Bertrand Traore almost made the most of a slip by Kevin de Bruyne but his curling effort was well saved by Ederson, who also had to claw away a fierce Douglas Luiz effort to secure his side's fifth consecutive clean sheet.

Villa vibrant on return to action

Villa leave Manchester empty handed, just as they did in their previous Premier League game against United on 1 January, but they deserve great credit for their performance here.

'Farcical' Man City goal frustrates Smith

Nine unnamed players and five members of their backroom staff had tested positive for Covid-19 at the start of January, and the club's training ground only reopened on Sunday.

They had seen their past two league games, against Everton and Tottenham, postponed but this was a reminder of the way they were playing before their season was interrupted.

Smith was December's manager of the month after his side stayed unbeaten across five games and ended the year in fifth.

They have dropped out of the top half while they have been out of action but on this evidence that is a false position - the defensive improvement that has been the hallmark of their season was again on show here, as was their spirit.

'Did they get juggling balls for Christmas?'

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to MOTD: "I had the feeling we controlled the game. The top four players they have, player like Jack Grealish and Ross Barkley, the feeling is that wow, you feel the dangers in every actions.

"We arrived at the byline many times but could not score the goal but Bernando Silva was there and his goal made the difference.

"We struggled against Brighton in the last game - they are one of the best teams for creating chances, so it has been hard for us. Maybe they are not clinical but they are good."

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith, speaking to MOTD: "It was a farcical decision (to allow the first goal). I've not seen a goal like that given. It needs to be looked at. I don't think anyone in this stadium thought it was a goal.

"I thought they would go over to the VAR screen. I saw the incident and saw it was kicking off, so I asked the fourth officials did they get juggling balls for Christmas.

"For the second goal, a header from a yard out that has hit his arm. That's not handball. Ridiculous.

"It was a heroic performance in terms of energy and commitment but we didn't show enough quality against a very good team."

What's next?

City travel to play League Two side Cheltenham in the FA Cup on Saturday (17:30 GMT) with the game being shown live on BBC One. They return to Premier League action on Tuesday with a trip to West Brom (20:15).

Villa are out of the FA Cup but play their rearranged Premier League game with Newcastle, postponed at the end of November because of Covid-19 cases in the Magpies camp, on Saturday (20:00) as they begin to work through their fixture backlog.

City beat Villa again - the stats

  • Manchester City have won 15 of their past 16 Premier League home games against Aston Villa, including each of the past 11 in a row.
  • City have kept 10 clean sheets in their 18 Premier League games this season - only in 1976-77 (17 games) have they reached 10 in fewer games in their league history.
  • Aston Villa made 10 blocks against City - only Leeds against Liverpool on the opening day have made more in a Premier League game this season (12).
  • There were 39 shots in total in this match (28 for City, 11 for Villa) - only Manchester United v Leeds in December has seen more in the Premier League this season (43).
  • City's Bernardo scored his first Premier League goal since July, and his first at the Etihad since netting a hat-trick against Watford in September 2019.
  • Gundogan's penalty was his seventh goal in all competitions this season, his best goalscoring season in his top-flight career.
  • With five shots and six chances created, City's Phil Foden was involved in more shots than in any game in his Premier League career.

Player of the match

MartínezEmiliano Martínez

with an average of 7.40

Manchester City

  1. Squad number47Player nameFoden
    Average rating

    7.09

  2. Squad number8Player nameGündogan
    Average rating

    6.95

  3. Squad number20Player nameBernardo Silva
    Average rating

    6.90

  4. Squad number3Player nameRúben Dias
    Average rating

    6.90

  5. Squad number27Player nameJoão Cancelo
    Average rating

    6.73

  6. Squad number17Player nameDe Bruyne
    Average rating

    6.71

  7. Squad number5Player nameStones
    Average rating

    6.58

  8. Squad number31Player nameEderson
    Average rating

    6.54

  9. Squad number16Player nameRodri
    Average rating

    6.36

  10. Squad number11Player nameZinchenko
    Average rating

    6.16

  11. Squad number9Player nameGabriel Jesus
    Average rating

    5.74

  12. Squad number26Player nameMahrez
    Average rating

    5.69

  13. Squad number7Player nameSterling
    Average rating

    5.55

  14. Squad number2Player nameWalker
    Average rating

    5.48

Aston Villa

  1. Squad number26Player nameMartínez
    Average rating

    7.40

  2. Squad number10Player nameGrealish
    Average rating

    7.17

  3. Squad number18Player nameTargett
    Average rating

    7.17

  4. Squad number6Player nameDouglas Luiz
    Average rating

    6.88

  5. Squad number4Player nameKonsa
    Average rating

    6.76

  6. Squad number2Player nameCash
    Average rating

    6.61

  7. Squad number5Player nameMings
    Average rating

    6.45

  8. Squad number7Player nameMcGinn
    Average rating

    6.41

  9. Squad number15Player nameTraoré
    Average rating

    6.40

  10. Squad number11Player nameWatkins
    Average rating

    6.30

  11. Squad number20Player nameBarkley
    Average rating

    6.12

  12. Squad number41Player nameRamsey
    Average rating

    5.74

  13. Squad number3Player nameTaylor
    Average rating

    5.72

  14. Squad number21Player nameEl Ghazi
    Average rating

    5.70

Line-ups

Man City

Formation 4-3-3

  • 31Ederson
  • 2WalkerSubstituted forZinchenkoat 28'minutes
  • 5Stones
  • 3Rúben Dias
  • 27Cancelo
  • 17De BruyneSubstituted forGabriel Jesusat 59'minutes
  • 16Rodri
  • 8Gündogan
  • 7SterlingSubstituted forMahrezat 72'minutes
  • 20Bernardo Silva
  • 47Foden

Substitutes

  • 9Gabriel Jesus
  • 11Zinchenko
  • 13Steffen
  • 21Torres
  • 22Mendy
  • 25Fernandinho
  • 26Mahrez
  • 50García
  • 82Bernabé

Aston Villa

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 26Martínez
  • 2Cash
  • 4Konsa
  • 5Mings
  • 18TargettSubstituted forTaylorat 75'minutesBooked at 86mins
  • 6Douglas Luiz
  • 7McGinnBooked at 67mins
  • 15TraoréSubstituted forEl Ghaziat 68'minutes
  • 20BarkleySubstituted forRamseyat 68'minutes
  • 10Grealish
  • 11Watkins

Substitutes

  • 1Heaton
  • 3Taylor
  • 19Nakamba
  • 21El Ghazi
  • 22Engels
  • 24Guilbert
  • 27El Mohamady
  • 39Davis
  • 41Ramsey
Referee:
Jonathan Moss

Match Stats

Home TeamMan CityAway TeamAston Villa
Possession
Home69%
Away31%
Shots
Home28
Away11
Shots on Target
Home9
Away4
Corners
Home16
Away2
Fouls
Home10
Away9

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Manchester City 2, Aston Villa 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Manchester City 2, Aston Villa 0.

  3. Post update

    John Stones (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Jack Grealish (Aston Villa).

  5. Post update

    Foul by Rodrigo (Manchester City).

  6. Post update

    Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  7. Post update

    Goal! Manchester City 2, Aston Villa 0. Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the centre of the goal.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) header from the left side of the six yard box misses to the right. Assisted by Riyad Mahrez with a cross.

  9. Post update

    Penalty conceded by Matthew Cash (Aston Villa) with a hand ball in the penalty area.

  10. Post update

    Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Emiliano Martínez.

  11. Post update

    Attempt saved. João Cancelo (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Bernardo Silva.

  12. Booking

    Neil Taylor (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  13. Post update

    Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Neil Taylor (Aston Villa).

  15. Post update

    Foul by Bernardo Silva (Manchester City).

  16. Post update

    Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  17. Goal!

    Goal! Manchester City 1, Aston Villa 0. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Rodrigo.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City).

  19. Post update

    Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Matthew Cash.

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