Manchester City 4 Aston Villa 0

FA Premier League
Wednesday 7 May 2014, 19.45 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Kolarov, Garcia, Toure, Milner (Jovetic 60), Silva (Fernandinho 76), Nasri, Dzeko (Negredo 86)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Richards, Clichy
Goals: Dzeko (64, 72), Jovetic (89), Toure (90+3)
Booked: Jovetic

Referee: Michael Oliver
Man of the Match: Stevan Jovetic

Dzeko celebrates the opening goal.

Dzeko celebrates the opening goal.

Manchester City are a point away from their second Premier League title, following a comprehensive win over Aston Villa at a very rainy Etihad. It was a nervy atmosphere until Dzeko opened the scoring in the second half, when it seemed to lift a weight from the fans’ shoulders – and, to round of a good evening, Toure bagged the Blues’ century of league goals too.

The rain pounded down onto the pitch and it added an extra layer of drama and tension to proceedings – which could have been calmed inside five minutes, as Kolarov tested Guzan at his near post. The goalkeeper parried it away and began a frantic five minutes for his side that saw Kompany head just over the bar and Guzan block with his left foot to deny Toure.

Silva came close to stealing in ahead of the Villa goalkeeper, when Guzan let a Kolarov cross slip from his grasp. The American goalkeeper, however, managed to dive on the loose ball before the Spaniard could prod it into the goal. Nasri wasn’t too far away from opening the scoring, too, as he exchanged a one-two with Silva on the corner of the box, but his effort didn’t bend enough and sailed wide.

It could have been even less comfortable for the home fans mid-way through the first half. First, a cross from the left found Bowery unmarked in the box and he couldn’t connect well enough to trouble Hart – scuffing his half-volley into the side netting. Then, a City corner broke down and left Zabaleta one-on-one with Weimann. The Argentine slowed the forward down and forced him to shoot wide when he should have tested the goalkeeper.

City, however, should have gone in at half time in the lead. Zabaleta could have had a shot on goal, but instead chose to square for Silva – the Spaniard’s effort was blocked after his first touch got away from him a little. And then Nasri somehow prodded wide from a Milner cross into the box, after Guzan had come and been found wanting.

Nasri comes under pressure.

Nasri comes under pressure.

Early in the second half, the breakthrough almost came in spectacular style from the captain. A ball into the box was cleared, but Silva returned it quickly with a header and the Villa defence hadn’t pushed out far enough. Kompany tried a bicycle kick to turn the ball towards goal, but he couldn’t direct it away from Guzan, who was able to hold at the second attempt.

Ten minutes into the half, Kolarov had a free kick pushed away from goal, as he curled it towards the top corner from 30 yards. It had clearly been frustrating for the players, too – as there were long discussions between the left back and Toure over who would get to have the strike at goal.

Pellegrini introduced Jovetic to try and add a new dimension to the game and, just four minutes after the Montenegrin was introduced, the Blues took the lead. It had been coming – a cute ball through to Zabaleta on the right allowed him to drive a low cross into the box, where Dzeko was arrived to nutmeg Guzan. The Etihad erupted.

A few minutes later, the same combination created another City goal. Zabaleta was played in by Silva and the defender drove the ball into the box once more. This time it was for Nasri, whose shot was well saved by Guzan, but the goalkeeper was helpless as Dzeko touched the rebound into the empty net.

The visitors came inches away from pulling a goal back with eight minutes to play, as a free kick from the right caused City all kinds of problems. A ball to the back post saw Hart go wandering to try and collect, but it was nodded back across and – with the goalkeeper out of position – it looked like a simple task for Weimann to head home. He hit the bar, with the ball bouncing down onto the line and out – and the Goal Decision System said it wasn’t in.

The game was sealed with two minutes to play. Toure looked like he’d spent too much time inside the Villa box with the ball and hadn’t found room for the shot, as he jinked inside and outside the tight defence, but the Ivorian found Jovetic arriving late from the left. The Montenegrin hit it first time straight into the bottom corner.

However, in stoppage time, Toure rounded off the win with City’s 100th league goal of the season. It was a typical Toure move, as the midfielder picked up the ball midway inside his own half and – as the furthest home player forward – drove towards goal. He couldn’t be stopped by any of the four Villa defenders trying to keep pace with him and, one-on-one with Guzan, he blasted it into the net.

The win put City back on top of the table and a point against West Ham on Sunday will be enough to clinch the title. It’s City’s to lose.

Aston Villa 3 Manchester City 2

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)
Booked: Nasri

Referee: Mike Jones
Man of the Match: Samir Nasri

Villa1

Dzeko puts City back into the lead.

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.

Villa2

Toure wrestles back possession.

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.

Aston Villa 0 Manchester City 1

FA Premier League
Monday 4 March 2013, 20.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta (c), K Toure, Nastasic, Clichy, Garcia, Milner, Rodwell (Dzeko 25), Silva (Barry 90), Y Toure, Tevez (Nasri 75)
Unused: Pantilimon, Lescott, Kolarov, Sinclair
Goals: Tevez (45+1)
Booked:

Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the Match: Pablo Zabaleta

Villa1It was a nervy start from the visitors, who had several high balls into the box to deal with and City just about did what they needed to. Hart came to punch a sliced Garcia clearance, but skewed the ball upwards, before Kolo Toure volleyed away after Benteke couldn’t get to a cross first. Weimann was then inches from connecting to a low ball into the box, but he couldn’t and Hart was happy to see it wide.

With 20 minutes played, it had been all Villa and City had Tevez to thank that the scores were still level. Benteke got up above the defence to head at goal from a corner and it was destined for the bottom corner until the striker volleyed it off the line. At the other end, Rodwell had the visitors’ first shot on target, forcing Guzan to tip over at the near post. The bad news for City was that, in shooting, the midfielder suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury.

A free kick on the edge of the box for City went straight through the Villa wall from Milner, but Guzan got across to hold the midfielder’s shot. It was still an isolated effort for the away side, who had struggled to settle into the game. Clichy had nodded down for Dzeko, but he couldn’t find Tevez, before Tevez tried to slot Yaya Toure through, but the pass was intercepted.

From City’s first good move of the game, the visitors were a lick of paint from taking the lead. Silva and Yaya Toure combined to slot Zabaleta through into the box and the Argentine’s curled shot towards the far corner was brilliantly touched onto the inside of the post by Guzan. The Villa keeper was in action again a moment later to deny Tevez from the edge of the box. City had woken up.

As the board went up for stoppage time, Clark was put under pressure by Dzeko, who stole the ball and found himself through on goal. As the defence came back to cover, he squared for Tevez to take it around Guzan and roll it into the corner, past the covering defender on the line. City were in front in first half stoppage time.

It was end-to-end for the first few minutes of the second half, as Villa looked to slide Weimann through in the box, but Benteke’s ball wasn’t good enough. Guzan was then worried by a deflected Dzeko effort, after Silva had played Tevez through and Zabaleta had had his shot blocked. From the resulting corner, Nastasic tried an ambitious overhead kick and it ended up in the fans behind the goal.

Villa2On 55 minutes, Dzeko stole the ball from the Villa back line for the second time in the match and, once again, he played Tevez in. The Argentine carried the ball across the box and shot for the near post – Guzan was beaten, but there was a covering defender behind him to clear the danger. Tevez should have squared to Silva, who was in acres of space.

Five minutes later, some good defending from Kolo Toure kept the visitors’ lead intact. He tracked the run of Agbonlahor and got the final touch on the striker’s header from inside the six-yard box to deflect it over the bar. Dzeko defended the corner and Hart came to clear up the remaining danger. At the other end, a Milner free kick bounced to Yaya Toure and he was brought down on the edge of the box: Tevez’s shot hit the wall.

Lowton nearly responded for Villa with 25 minutes to play as he smashed a shot from very long range. It curled away from Hart’s far post and, despite the goalkeeper appearing worried by the effort, it finished wide of the goal. Shortly after, City had the ball in the net again, but it was ruled out by an offside flag. Yaya Toure hit the inside of the post with a low drive on his left foot and the rebound fell to Dzeko, but he was rightly flagged.

With a couple of minutes to play, Villa cranked up the pressure on the City goal. Benteke could have won a penalty when Nastasic didn’t win the ball, before some good defending from Zabaleta, Kolo and Yaya Toure forced the ball clear. Benteke almost picked out a Villa shirt when he nodded back across goal, but Nastasic got a boot in to clear.

Like the start, it was a nervy finish, but, equally, it was a hard-fought City win.

Manchester City 5 Aston Villa 0

FA Premier League
Saturday 17 November 2012, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Maicon, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy (Kolarov 73), Y Toure, Barry, Nasri, Silva (Sinclair 77), Tevez, Aguero (Dzeko 69)
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Lescott, Garcia
Goals: Silva (43), Aguero (pen 54, 67), Tevez (pen 65, 74)
Booked:

Referee: Jon Moss
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez

The home side started the game brightly, pushing Villa onto the back-foot from the off. Maicon smashed a ball across the penalty area, but neither Aguero nor Tevez could get the vital touch, before Aguero tried to flick a Tevez shot into the net from a corner, but it landed on the roof of the net.

Villa, though, were counter-attacking dangerously. They failed to take advantage of a three-on-two, before Joe Hart was forced to make a brilliant save as Kompany almost turned a low cross into his own net. It wouldn’t have counted due to an offside flag – with Benteke challenging his fellow countryman – but the City keeper wasn’t to know. The England keeper was in action again minutes later, saving brilliantly from a Benteke header.

Guzan wasn’t to be left out at the other end – he did well to push a Clichy shot behind for a corner, before he held on well to a Nasri volley after Aguero had missed the first ball from Maicon’s cross. But, as half time approached, City’s pressure paid off and Villa’s defence was breached. A goalmouth scramble finished with Silva poking the ball into the net, past the Villa keeper who wasn’t happy with the defending in front of him.

The second half began as the first ended, with more City pressure. Just under ten minutes into the half, the home side were given a rather generous penalty. The assistant flagged for a handball from a corner kick, but both the home and away fans were baffled. Aguero didn’t complain, stepping up to slot the spot-kick to Guzan’s left.

Ten minutes later, the same assistant was flagging for a penalty again, this time a handball against Bannan as he slid in to challenge Silva. This time the linesman was correct and, despite having already scored from the spot, Aguero handed the ball to Tevez. His fellow striker stepped up and rolled the ball into the same corner as the first and Villa weren’t getting back into the game.

An error from Guzan two minutes later let Aguero add his second goal of the game. City broke quickly and Tevez slid the ball to his countryman on the right hand side. Aguero took it into the box, around the covering defender and shot low and hard at the near post. Guzan should have done much better and it snook in.

Maicon had the chance to add City’s fifth, but his one-two with Dzeko finished with the right-back smashing his effort well over the bar from ten yards out. But, a minute later, the home side did have another goal, as some neat build-up finished with Nasri crossing low for Tevez to tap in at the back post. Both of City’s starting strikers had a brace.

With the visitors dead on their feet, City were well in control of the game. Sinclair could have made it six but for a brilliant save by Guzan, before Yaya Toure curled a shot straight into the American goalkeeper’s hands. Tevez was inches from his hat-trick, sliding in on a Kolarov cross, but he just couldn’t stretch enough.

Manchester City 2 Aston Villa 4 (AET)

League Cup Third Round
Tuesday 25 September 2012, 19.45 KO

City: Pantilimon, K Toure (c), Lescott (Dzeko 74), Nastasic, Kolarov, Barry, Razak (Helan 111), Suarez (Sinclair 62), Milner, Tevez, Balotelli
Unused: Wright, Evans, Zabaleta, Scapuzzi
Goals: Balotelli (27), Kolarov (64)
Booked: Tevez, Razak, K Toure, Kolarov

Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez

With a much changed team from the previous weekend, Roberto Mancini gave some fringe players a chance to shine. But the City second string never really got to grips with the game and it was the visitors who had most of the early possession.

Both Weimann and Benteke should have put Villa ahead early in the game, after some very slack defending by the home side. The first shot was deflected behind for a corner, before the second was spooned well over the bar, while the City back-line played musical statues.

Against the run of play, though, City took the lead. With virtually their first attack of the game, a cross-field ball found Milner on the right flank and he cut inside the Villa defence. He chipped the ball into Balotelli on the penalty spot and, after taking a touch to control, he smashed it past Given to put the hosts in front.

The goal, though, didn’t perk the home side up. The game meandered to the break, with Villa having a better grip of the ball, but struggling to create chances on Pantilimon’s goal, while City just couldn’t get out of first gear, giving the ball away and letting possible attacks break down.

The second half started with City on top, but again there were few chances. Tevez wriggled his way into the Villa box and went down under pressure, but the referee waved away the protests and play continued. Soon enough, the visitors took advantage and were on terms: A low ball into the box was palmed away by Pantilimon and it deflected off Barry into the back of the net.

Within minutes, though, the blues were back in front. Balotelli was brought down on the edge of the Villa box and Kolarov stepped up to take the free kick. The Serbian swung the ball brilliantly for the top corner and Given was left flapping at thin air, putting the home side 2-1 up.

The lead, though, didn’t last long again. Agbonlahor found time and space in the middle of the City half. He surged forward towards the back line, where he found a gap on the edge of the box, leaving him with a one-on-one with the City goalkeeper. Pantilimon could do nothing about his well placed, slide-rule finish and the game was all square again.

With five minutes of normal time to play, City twice could have won the tie. Balotelli flicked a header towards goal from inside the box and it looked to be dipping under Given’s crossbar until the Irishman touched it over. Then, following a foul on the left corner of the box, Tevez curled a free kick onto the crossbar, as the game headed for extra time.

Six minutes into the first period of extra time, the visitors went ahead for the first time in the tie. A ball over the top was chased by Agbonlahor and he got there before Kolo Toure could. Pantilimon managed to save his one-on-one, but could do nothing with the rebound, as N’Zogbia slotted it into the open goal.

Right on the stroke of half time in extra time, Sinclair looked to get the hosts back level by driving at the heart of the Villa defence. He ran at the back four and, when into the box, appeared to be fouled from behind, but, once again, the referee was unmoved and awarded the blues a corner instead.

With six minutes of the tie remaining, the away side won the game. A breakaway found Agbonlahor left to run at Helan and Kolo Toure and, as the two defenders tried to close him down, he shot from just inside the box. The effort looped off Helan and left Pantilimon stranded, with the ball dropping into the corner of the net.

City just never turned up and Aston Villa were deserved winners of the match.

 

 

 

Aston Villa 0 Manchester City 1

English Premier League
Sunday 12 February 2012, 16.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Lescott, Kolarov, Barry, de Jong, Milner, A Johnson (Nasri 84), Silva (Richards 90), Aguero (Dzeko 89)
Unused: Pantilimon, Savic, Clichy, Pizarro
Goals: Lescott (63)
Booked:

Referee: Michael Oliver
Man of the Match: Gareth Barry

With City wearing their third strip for the first time this season, the game got off to a rather subdued start. It was the visitors with the opening chance of the game, as the ball bounced nicely for Aguero in the area. But his turn and shot was pounced on by Given at the second attempt. Richard Dunne followed that up with Villa’s first effort with a header from a free kick, before a Silva shot was swallowed up by the home side’s keeper.

Some neat build-up from City allowed Barry the chance to shoot from the edge of the box, but his effort was easily collected by Given, despite Silva’s attention in an offside position. Had it gone in, it would probably have been disallowed. A neat turn on the edge of the box from Aguero gave the Argentine the opportunity to cross, but there was nobody in support and City relinquished possession.

Milner had the chance to shoot inside the area, but he sliced the ball into Richard Dunne. He conceded the corner and, at the second attempt, the ball was just about cleared from the box, where Johnson picked it up. He took the shot on, beat his former team-mate Given, but couldn’t beat the post, as the ball crashed back off the upright.

With just over ten minutes of the first half remaining, Johnson broke into the box and pulled the ball back. Aguero’s deflected shot was well blocked en route to the Villa goal, with Barry unable to get onto the rebound. A Kolarov free kick was then curled well over the bar, as City looked for the breakthrough before the break. It didn’t come, despite the visitors’ domination of play.

Aston Villa started the second half strongly, but weren’t able to test Hart in the opening few minutes. With 53 minutes on the clock, Lescott headed a great chance over from a Silva free kick, as he connected inside the six-yard box. Zabaleta then had a shot from the edge of the box, but it was easily held by Given.

Just before the hour mark, Kolarov smashed the ball through a crowded penalty area, but both Silva and Aguero weren’t able to get a vital touch and it bounced behind for a goal kick. City had started the second half in much the same vein as they ended the first: On top, but struggling to create a clear cut chance.

A Silva free kick whipped into the box was well headed over by Collins. From the resulting corner, the visitors grabbed the lead: Barry headed a deep corner back into the box and Lescott turned and poked the ball past Given. Johnson could have immediately doubled the lead, but his effort towards goal was blocked by the former City keeper, after a touch from Silva.

With ten minutes to play, Petrov smashed a shot at Hart’s goal from a long way out, but it deflected off Kompany and almost bounced for Cuellar, but the Villa man couldn’t pick up the pieces. Dunne connected with the resulting corner, but Hart was able to hold on to the ex-City man’s header. Milner then worked his way into the box after some neat feet from Lescott, but Johnson couldn’t get to the low cross first.

With just under three minutes of normal time to play, Cuellar got in between markers at a corner and headed the ball over the bar when he should have done better. A brilliant save from Hart then denied Bent, as the board went up for stoppage time. It was a warning shot across City’s bows.

After some more great goalkeeping to punch the ball away from Dunne, Hart almost gifted the home side an equaliser in the last seconds as a Gareth Barry back header almost slipped from his grasp into the Irishman’s path. But, fortunately for the visitors, the England keeper was able to recover and grab the ball ahead of the striker and the three points were preserved.

City were back on top of the Premier League.

Manchester City 4 Aston Villa 1

English Premier League
Saturday 15 October 2011, 15.00 KO

City: Hart, Richards (K Toure 66), Kompany (c), Lescott, Clichy, Y Toure (Silva 66), de Jong, Barry, Milner, A Johnson (Hargreaves 79), Balotelli
Unused: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Nasri, Dzeko
Goals: Balotelli (28), A Johnson (47), Kompany (53), Milner (71)
Booked: Barry

Referee: Anthony Taylor
Man of the Match: James Milner

City started the game the brighter, controlling possession early on and looking to break the deadlock in the opening stages. But, despite their hard work and pressure, the chance to shoot didn’t come and Villa were able to ride the storm, before forcing some pressure of their own. Kompany couldn’t intercept a low cross and Agbonlahor missed his kick. The Villa man then stole the ball from Lescott, but Hart was there to save the one-on-one.

But soon City got into their stride: Balotelli had an effort that Milner backheeled onto the post, before a Barry cross was inches away from a decisive touch and Yaya Toure forced a comfortable save out of the former City keeper Given. The Irish keeper was then needed again to turn a Balotelli effort around the post for a corner; City were beginning to get on top.

And, on 28 minutes, that pressure paid off. A corner wasn’t well cleared by the visiting defence, leaving it to be prodded back into the danger zone by Richards. Balotelli was there and he executed a neat over-head kick to smash the ball past Given from six yards out. City could have doubled the lead almost instantly, as Balotelli robbed the ball from Dunne, but he couldn’t find Yaya Toure in support.

Bent and Warnock then had efforts blocked as Villa tried to respond, before the same happened to Adam Johnson, as he weaved his way in from the right flank. Balotelli was then on defensive duty, stealing the ball inside his own half, before de Jong had an effort that he smashed well over the bar.

As soon as the game restarted from half time, though, City found themselves further in front. An over the top ball from the left was missed completely by Warnock as he tried to volley clear and Adam Johnson made the most of the opportunity to coolly roll it past the on-rushing Given and into the bottom corner.

Almost immediately, City added their third. A goalmouth scramble inside the Villa box ended with a Gareth Barry effort being deflected around the post for a corner. From that, Johnson delivered the perfect ball to an unmarked Kompany and the Belgian made no mistake in nodding past his former team-mate, as Given couldn’t keep it out. City were looking like they could run away with the game.

Richards and Given then collided from another corner and City lost the right-back to injury. While they were down to ten men, as Mancini waited to hear on the defender’s fitness, a cross into the City box wasn’t dealt with and broke to Warnock at the back post. He rattled the crossbar as he smashed the ball home, giving the away side hope of a comeback.

City, though, were in no mood to let their visitors off the hook. Milner played a beautiful cross-field pass to Johnson, who brought in Barry. The ex-Villain then gave it back to Milner on the edge of the box and he swept the ball into the top corner, again leaving Given rooted to the spot and restoring City’s three goal lead.

With just under 15 minutes to play, Silva should have added another goal to City’s tally for the afternoon after some neat play from Johnson slipped the Spaniard through. He curled the ball around Given, but the ex-City keeper did enough to put him off and the effort was wide of the far post.

City ended the game with perhaps their best spell of possession this season, leaving Villa chasing shadows. Kompany had the chance to double his goal tally for the season as he broke from the back and decided to go alone, but he scuffed his effort well wide of the post. It didn’t matter, though, and City will go into the Manchester derby next weekend top of the Premier League.