MAN CITY 2, ASTON VILLA 3
(after extra time)
Don’t believe that Capital One Cup is a competition nobody wants to win after Manchester City suffered a third-round knockout at the hands of Aston Villa.
The joyous celebrations of Villa manager Paul Lambert after his side scored its fourth goal to seal victory underlined what it meant to him.
And the sight of Lambert and City manager Roberto Mancini also having a furious exchange on the touchline also demonstrated there was plenty of passion from both camps.
Mancini sparked fury by waving an imaginary card as he attempted to influence referee Phil Dowd to caution Charles N’Zogbia for a challenge on Carlos Tevez.
The City manager later denied any improper behaviour saying all he did was to ask fourth official Martin Atkinson whether it was a booking.
Mancini was disappointed to lose conceding Villa deserved their victory.
“This may be the fourth competition, but we wanted to stay in the cup. We have won everything, but not won this cup,” he explained.
Mancini added that he was concerned with the goals conceded as they have now leaked 14 goals in seven games.
“We have a problem in defence and we need to work hard to improve,” he said.
Though this was effectively City’s second string – they made 10 changes from the side which started against Arsenal on Sunday – they still fielded a strikeforce of Tevez and Mario Balotelli and nine full internationals in their line up.
And though youngsters Abdul Razak and Denis Suarez made City’s starting line up, they still had a side capable of advancing into the competition.
City would have made 11 changes from Sunday had Joleon Lescott not been forced into action after Jack Rodwell was injured in the warm up.
Villa made the brighter start, but it was City who took a 27th minute lead through Balotelli’s close-range shot, his sixth goal in four games against the Midlands side.
The Villa equaliser just short of the hour mark came from their old boy Gareth Barry who put through his own goal after keeper Costel Pantilimon parried a cross into the path of the midfield man.
City regained the lead midway through the half through a terrific free kick from Aleksandar Kolarov.
But never-say-die Villa battled back for a second time when Gabriel Agbonlahor carved a way through the centre of City’s flimsy defence.
City twice came close to snatching a winner before the match went to extra time.
Balotelli’s header was acrobatically turned over the crossbar by Shay Given while a free kick from Tevez clipped the crossbar.
Villa went ahead for the first time in the 96th minute when Pantilimon could only parry Agbonlahor’s shot and N’Zogbia slotted home the rebound.
And the Midlands side sealed victory in the 113th minute when Agbonlahor curled home an exquisite shot, albeit with the help of a deflection as it looped over Pantilimon.