Match Report – Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City
By George Knight
Manchester City are closing in on their fifth Premier League title after a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Wednesday night. Goals from Phil Foden and Rodri cancelled out John McGinn’s 21 second opener, but both sides finished with ten as both John Stones and Matty Cash saw red.
Villa came out the blocks flying, a clever ball over the top from Tyrone Mings caught Stones napping, the mistimed interception gave Villa forward Ollie Watkins the opportunity to square the ball across to the free McGinn to slot past Ederson to give the hosts an early lead. It looked like déjà vu from the 7-2 against Liverpool as Villa looked very dangerous early on with Douglas Luiz not being able to capitalise on another mistake from the City defence, Villa were soon to rue these chances.
City were level by the 22nd minute, a long ball from keeper Ederson broke Villa’s high line as he found Foden, working the ball wide to Riyad Mahrez who’s cute pass set Bernardo Silva free and a clever cut back saw Foden get the away side back on level terms. The England international’s no-look finish caught the Villa keeper Emi Martinez out as the away side were quick to get the game restarted.
City were ahead in the 40th minute, Foden’s corner was cleared to Ilkay Gundogan, playing the ball wide to Silva the Portuguese playmaker was quick to get his second assist of the evening, his lofted cross into the box was met by the towering Rodri, who rose highest to beat both Mings and Martinez giving the away side a deserved one goal advantage.
Things looked ugly for the away side shortly before the break, a well-timed pass from McGinn looked to have set Jacob Ramsey free but Stones came flying in with a high tackle. Referee Peter Bankes originally gave Stones a yellow, but after being told to go and have another look at the monitor Bankes changed his decision from yellow to red, and gave Villa an opportunity to get back into the game.
Dean Smith made an attacking change at the interval, throwing on target man Keinan Davis as his side looked to claw their way back into the affair. However just 12 minutes into the second half and this time it was Villa who saw themselves down to ten. Cash was booked for a foul on Foden and just moments after loosing the ball hunted down the City architect and caught him with a late tackle, it was naïve of Cash who has had a stellar debut season for the team in claret and blue, but this would be an evening to forget for the Villa defender.
With the sides now level City didn’t really need to find second gear, a dominant display showed the nation that this side are here to stay, and be crowned Premier League champions for a fifth time. City will go into this weekend Carabao Cup final against Spurs in high spirits, whereas as Villa will look to bounce back in a Midlands derby at home to West Brom.
‘What the Managers said’
Dean Smith – “A great start, played the ball in behind with a quick free kick which we spoke about, and then had to defend very well because they had 25 minutes of wonderful football”.
Smith added “The disappointing part for me is the manner of the goals, they’ve got a good keeper who strikes the ball 70 yards, they pick up the second ball and then score from that, and then there’s a second phase corner”.
Smith later went on to say that Matty Cash’s red card was ‘stupid’ but ‘harsh’
Pep Guardiola – “It was not the best of starts, but we reacted incredibly well, we played so good. And now we need 7 points which is two wins and a draw.”
When asked about the individual performances Pep said “After the sending off we controlled the game with the players we have, with Riyad and Bernardo and yeah we finished the game”.
However Pep didn’t agree with Bankes’ decision to give Stones the red “At first I didn’t see the action on the TV, it’s late, but the intention is not there”.
Aston Villa – Martinez (5), Cash (4), Konsa (6), Mings (6), Targett (6), Nakamba (6), Douglas Luiz (5), Ramsey (5), McGinn (6), Traore (5), Watkins (6)
Subs – Davis (5), Barkley (5), El Ghazi (5)
Man City – Ederson (6), Walker (6), Stones (3), Dias (6), Zinchenko (6), Rodri (8), Bernardo Silva (7), Gundogan (6), Mahrez (6), Jesus (5), Foden (9)
Subs – Laporte (6), Fernandinho (N/A)
Man of the Match – Phil Foden