League Cup Third Round
Tuesday 25 September 2012, 19.45 KO
City: Pantilimon, K Toure (c), Lescott (Dzeko 74), Nastasic, Kolarov, Barry, Razak (Helan 111), Suarez (Sinclair 62), Milner, Tevez, Balotelli
Unused: Wright, Evans, Zabaleta, Scapuzzi
Goals: Balotelli (27), Kolarov (64)
Booked: Tevez, Razak, K Toure, Kolarov
Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez
With a much changed team from the previous weekend, Roberto Mancini gave some fringe players a chance to shine. But the City second string never really got to grips with the game and it was the visitors who had most of the early possession.
Both Weimann and Benteke should have put Villa ahead early in the game, after some very slack defending by the home side. The first shot was deflected behind for a corner, before the second was spooned well over the bar, while the City back-line played musical statues.
Against the run of play, though, City took the lead. With virtually their first attack of the game, a cross-field ball found Milner on the right flank and he cut inside the Villa defence. He chipped the ball into Balotelli on the penalty spot and, after taking a touch to control, he smashed it past Given to put the hosts in front.
The goal, though, didn’t perk the home side up. The game meandered to the break, with Villa having a better grip of the ball, but struggling to create chances on Pantilimon’s goal, while City just couldn’t get out of first gear, giving the ball away and letting possible attacks break down.
The second half started with City on top, but again there were few chances. Tevez wriggled his way into the Villa box and went down under pressure, but the referee waved away the protests and play continued. Soon enough, the visitors took advantage and were on terms: A low ball into the box was palmed away by Pantilimon and it deflected off Barry into the back of the net.
Within minutes, though, the blues were back in front. Balotelli was brought down on the edge of the Villa box and Kolarov stepped up to take the free kick. The Serbian swung the ball brilliantly for the top corner and Given was left flapping at thin air, putting the home side 2-1 up.
The lead, though, didn’t last long again. Agbonlahor found time and space in the middle of the City half. He surged forward towards the back line, where he found a gap on the edge of the box, leaving him with a one-on-one with the City goalkeeper. Pantilimon could do nothing about his well placed, slide-rule finish and the game was all square again.
With five minutes of normal time to play, City twice could have won the tie. Balotelli flicked a header towards goal from inside the box and it looked to be dipping under Given’s crossbar until the Irishman touched it over. Then, following a foul on the left corner of the box, Tevez curled a free kick onto the crossbar, as the game headed for extra time.
Six minutes into the first period of extra time, the visitors went ahead for the first time in the tie. A ball over the top was chased by Agbonlahor and he got there before Kolo Toure could. Pantilimon managed to save his one-on-one, but could do nothing with the rebound, as N’Zogbia slotted it into the open goal.
Right on the stroke of half time in extra time, Sinclair looked to get the hosts back level by driving at the heart of the Villa defence. He ran at the back four and, when into the box, appeared to be fouled from behind, but, once again, the referee was unmoved and awarded the blues a corner instead.
With six minutes of the tie remaining, the away side won the game. A breakaway found Agbonlahor left to run at Helan and Kolo Toure and, as the two defenders tried to close him down, he shot from just inside the box. The effort looped off Helan and left Pantilimon stranded, with the ball dropping into the corner of the net.
City just never turned up and Aston Villa were deserved winners of the match.