FA Premier League
Saturday 28 September 2013, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Kolarov, Nasri (Navas 65), Fernandinho, Toure, Milner, Negredo, Dzeko (Jovetic 74)
Unused: Pantilimon, Richards, Lescott, Clichy, Garcia
Goals: Toure (45), Dzeko (56)
Referee: Mike Jones
Man of the Match: Samir Nasri
The visitors made a bright start to the game and were close to opening the scoring after just three minutes, as Kolarov’s cross was dummied by Negredo and fell for Milner to strike. The ex-Villa midfielder did and it left Guzan rooted to the spot, but it was well wide of the far post. A Dzeko toe poke as he stretched for a Nasri through ball also forced the host’s goalkeeper into a comfortable save.
A slack pass from Fernandinho almost allowed Villa to play through – it sold Nastasic short and the hosts came away with a two-on-two. Nastasic held the attack up and a brilliant tackle from Toure set the visitors up on the counter-attack. Dzeko’s shot, though, was high and wide.
By the half hour mark, it had been all City and it was a mystery how the visitors weren’t in front. A scramble in the Villa box saw Dzeko square for Negredo to try and finish, but a last minute block from Vlaar got it clear. Only as far as Kolarov, though – the left-back took on the shot, but it was just wide.
With the half wearing on, the Villa goal was leading a charmed life. Kolarov’s low cross in was just about dealt with by Clark, who was inches away from smashing it into his own net. And, from the resulting corner, Toure nicked the ball over Guzan, but it was cleared off the line by two covering defenders.
Three minutes later, Guzan was rooted to the spot as Toure smashed a shot from range towards goal. The goalkeeper was going for the first effort, as it hit Baker and changed direction – but it finished just wide. The Ivorian, however, scored from the resulting corner. It was flicked to the middle and he prodded it straight through the goalkeeper.
The first action of the second half, though, saw the hosts equalise with their first shot on target. The linesman didn’t flag when the ball was slipped through to El Ahmadi – who should have been penalized for offside – and he found the bottom corner, across Joe Hart. It shouldn’t have stood.
However, the visitors were back in front virtually straight away. A cracking low ball from Kolarov forced Vlaar to concede a corner. From that flag kick, Nasri picked out Dzeko and he was able flick the ball into the net from the front post to the far corner.
The next corner could have seen City further in front. It was punched clear by Guzan, but Milner was able to pick up the pieces to cross from the right. That was nodded away as far as Negredo on the edge of the box and the Spaniard’s volley forced Guzan into a great stop to keep it out, with Dzeko lurking for a rebound.
A dubious free kick on the edge of the box, however, undid all of City’s hard work. Nastasic was penalised for very little and, from a central position, Bacuna curled the ball into the top corner, leaving Hart standing. It was a second goal that left the visitors fuming.
And it got worse for the travelling fans. A long ball over the top just two minutes later allowed Weimann a clean run on goal. Guzan played it long and Kompany and Nastasic both left it. The Villa forward touched it past Hart and, from nowhere, the hosts were ahead.
The visitors had lost control of the game and, with no time left on the clock to wrestle it back, Pellegrini’s poor run away from home continued.