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)
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.