ASTON VILLA 0 – MANCHESTER CITY 1
City survived a late Villa siege and a streaker to darken the mood of disgruntled home fans with a 1-0 win with Joleon Lescott’s second half strike proving the difference between the sides at Villa Park.
The win put City back on top of the Barclays Premier League after United’s win at Old Trafford yesterday.
Roberto Mancini was delighted with the win with that most Italian of scorelines but reserved his praise for Joe Hart after his late save:
“I think we played very well, we were only missing a goal in the first half but when you have a team which has only defenders behind the ball it is difficult. They had only one chance but Joe Hart is there for this, he’s one of the best keepers in Europe.
“I hope that we can win the next thirteen games 1-0, but if every game was 1-0 it’s not good for my heart!”
Alex McLeish had decided to field 3 strikers in Darren Bent, Robbie Keane and Emile Heskey while City made 4 changes from their last game with Micah Rchards, Stefan Savic, Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko replaced by Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, James Milner and Nigel De Jong.
City were still missing the Toure brothers, and their recent form without them had seen them lose 3 out of the 7 games they had played since their exit to the African Cup of Nations prior to the game today. They will welcome the Toure brothers back after the game today and rumour has it that Carlos Tevez might even make himself available from Tuesday this week.
A scrappy first half saw City fail to press home their advantage in possession with Sergio Aguero the chief culprit of missed chances although their best chance came when Adam Johnson struck the post in the first half with Shay Given beaten following a short corner routine.
David Silva had been awarded the freedom of Villa Park as he popped up in acres of space unfettered by marking and he inevitably played a part in winning the free kick that went for a corner in the second half.
Birmingham-born City defender Lescott popped up with a stabbed goal in the 63rd minute from 3 yards out after James Milner’s corner was knocked down by Gareth Barry to put City ahead as both sides struggled to drag the game out of the doldrums.
The mood at a chilly Villa Park was lifted only by the appearance of a streaker as the home fans continued to grumble at their static team who rarely troubled the City defence until the end.
As the game drew to a close Villa finally stepped up a gear had had 3 chances to level the game in the last 5 minutes.
Richard Dunne’s header was aimed directly at Joe Hart, and Carlos Cuellar couldn’t keep his header on target with 3 minutes left after Stiliyan Petrov’s free kick from the right flank
Joe Hart, tipped as a possible future England captain, produced a stunning one-handed save in added time to deny Darren Bent as Villa threw the kitchen sink at City but they survived the onslaught and Villa paid for their gung-ho finale by losing former City captain Dunne to a shoulder injury deep into injury time after a collision with Hart.