Manchester City score unimpressive win 1-0 over brave Aston Villa
Manchester City pulled back to within 12 points of their local rivals, Manchester United, with a narrow 1 – 0 win over Aston Villa, at Villa Park. The goal from Carlos Tevez came under slightly controversial circumstances with Ciaran Clark claiming that he was fouled by Eden Dzeko in the buildup; but was sufficient for the visitors to leave with all 3 points. The result leaves Villa in the relegation zone in spite of a commendable performance, particularly from Brad Guzan.
The game started on a quiet note, with both teams trading possession in midfield and sending in crosses, which rarely made it to a team-mate for either club. Christian Benteke established himself as a clear aerial threat for City though, getting his head to the ball off a corner but failing to get any direction on it. There was an interesting battle raging between Agbonlahor and Zabaleta down the right flank for City after the Englishman had showed up the Argentine in the opening minutes of the game.
The first real chance of the game fell the way of Aston Villa, with Benteke getting on the end of yet another corner but directing it firmly towards Joe Hart’s bottom left corner this time. Luckily for the reigning champions, Carlos Tevez was on hand, guarding that very post and cleared it away nonchalantly, keeping the game goalless after twenty minutes. A few minutes later, there was some bad news for the visitors as Jack Rodwell, who has already been plagued by injury this season, collapsed with a strain of sorts around his hamstring and had to be replaced with Dzeko.
Guzan’s first real save of the game came, surprisingly, after a half hour of play. A free-kick from James Milner went through the scattered Villa wall and bounced before Guzan, but reached the American at a comfortable height. He was soon involved yet again to stop a Zabaleta effort from making it into the net with a diving deflection onto the far post which, luckily for him, bounced back into play clear of any City player. City’s influence was growing and Guzan was further involved, punching away Tevez’s long range effort before competing for a ball with the Argentine and winning it off his feet from the ensuing play.
City took the lead, which they barely deserved, thanks to a slip from Clark. This allowed Dzeko to slip in behind the Villa defence and square the ball for Tevez, who rounded Guzan and slotted it into the net to the right of Clark, who had occupied a spot on the goal line. There were protests from the Villa players, and most significantly Clark himself, claiming that he had been clipped by Dzeko and should have had a free-kick in Villa’s favour. There was no changing Mike Dean’s mind though, and it was Roberto Mancini’s side which went into the break with a 1 – 0 lead.
The second half began much as the first had ended, with City playing in the Villa half, but in front of the Villa players. Carlos Tevez nearly bagged his and City’s second of the game ten minutes in, but saw his shot blocked away by Clark. A lay-off for David Silva would have undoubtedly been the better option, but the effort from Tevez was not a bad one in itself. Villa slowly began to claw their way back into the game, and a header at the near post by Agbonlahor deflected off Kolo Toure for a corner.
Yaya Toure, who had been less influential than his usual self, had an effort hit the post, having been deflected by Guzan’s fingertips, with the rebound being buried into the net by Dzeko, who was declared offside. With less than five minutes left in the game, Aston Villa had penalty claims waved away after the ball hit Nastasic’s hand in the box, but Mike Dean decided that it was not intentional. There was further pressure from Villa towards the end of the game, but none of it substantial, meaning the score line remained as it was at the halfway mark.
Result: Aston Villa 0 – 1 Manchester City (Carlos Tevez 45’+1)