MANCHESTER CITY 5, ASTON VILLA 0
The saying is that revenge tastes sweet and that was the case for Manchester City as they returned to the top of the Barclays Premier League for the first time since they were crowned champions.
The victory which took them to the summit came against a Villa side which not long ago knocked them out of the Capital One Cup after recording a victory at the Etihad Stadium.
David Silva opened the scoring and a brace each by Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez completed what turned out to be a rout.
Roberto Mancini praised the return to form of City’s strikers and with it some of the team spirit that carried them to the title last season.
City’s manager declared: “I am satisfied with the performance. We played well in the first half and had a lot of chances.
“In the last two games we have changed something in our minds and found a good spirit like last year.
“We have scored six goals in two games from our strikers and for the first time this season we are top of the league. This is important.”
Joe Hart’ form before the game had come under the spotlight following some under-par performances including for England against Sweden.
Mancini was quick to point out that adversity was character building after the City goalkeeper made two early saves with the game scoreless.
He said: “That is Joe Hart’s job. He was criticised after the international game and this is part of life.
“It’s important to have a strong character in the situation, and he was strong in the first half.”
Mancini is optimistic the improved form will continue into Wednesday’s crucial Champions League game against Real Madrid.
“The Champions League is a different competition. On Wednesday we play against one of the best teams in the world, with a fantastic history,” he added..
Paul Lambert’s side arrived back at the Etihad Stadium and once again seemed to have the measure of their opponents again in the early stages.
The visitors even tested Hart’s resolve with two early chances, a back pass from Vincent Kompany which he guided out and a downward header from Christian Benteke from Enda Stevens’ cross which he beat away.
.The telling statistics of the first half, though, was a majority of possession and chances for City who took the lead just before half time with a scruffy Silva toe-poke.
City had left out Mario Balotelli from the match day squad once again, this time through injury.
They were taking this game seriously, even though the visit of Real Madrid was days away and their first choice strike pair of Tevez and Aguero carved out several chances during the first half.
Villa finally caved in to one of the scruffiest goals Silva will ever score from two yards.
The floodgates opened in the second half but City’s goal was scored in controversial fashion after the assistant referee flagged for a penalty in the 53rd minute apparently after seeing Andreas Weimann handle Silva’s corner as Aguero extended City’s lead with a well-struck penalty.
Silva earned another penalty, this time with no complaints from the Villa defenders, when Barry Bannan slid in to try and win the ball from the Spaniard only to handle as Tevez this time scored from the spot.
The game was effectively over three minutes later when Aguero beat the offside trap and scored from an acute angle after being set up by Tevez.
Tevez scored his second after substitute Edin Dzeko fed Samir Nasri for a cross to the far post which Tevez finished with aplomb after 74 minutes.
Substitute Scott Sinclair had a couple of chances to give City an even wider margin of victory, but they go into Wednesday’s Champions League match with spirits high, even though reaching the knockout phase is almost mission impossible.