Aston Villa held strong in the first half, before capitulating in the second and conceding three goals to leave the Etihad Stadium disappointed.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa arrived at a fairly cold, rainy Etihad Stadium in Manchester for the early Premier League kick-off today. They were adorned in their evergreen third kit for the first time this season as they looked to cause an upset at the home of the reigning Premier League champions.
The away side had the first attack of the game, resulting in a corner – but Manchester City were straight back towards Aston Villa’s goal to get their own corner within the first three minutes.
The first real attack came in the fifth, as Engels chested the ball down for Gabriel Jesus to swivel on the ball and fire towards goal – with the Brazilian’s shot slithering just wide of the post.
Raheem Sterling was causing the majority of problems for Aston Villa in the opening twelve or so minutes, but French fullback Frederic Guilbert was handling the England international well enough.
The first fifteen or so minutes were dominant from Manchester City, bar a mazy run from Jack Grealish which resulted in little. Just a minute later however, Aston Villa sprung to life thanks to a beautiful touch from Trezeguet – resulting in another corner for the Villans.
The first seventeen or so minutes, despite Manchester City managing five shots to Aston Villa’s none, saw the visitors almost match the reigning champions for possession of the ball – with Villa sitting on 49%.
A mistake from John Stones saw John McGinn able to force Ederson into a save to his right, which saw Douglas Luiz – following his call-up to the Brazilian national team- in on goal before being dropped by a Manchester City duo, resulting in the third VAR check of the game – two against Aston Villa and one against Manchester City.
Tom Heaton was forced to rush out of his goal in the 34th as a sublime ball looked to have put Gabriel Jesus through on goal, but the keeper chested the ball down for McGinn and started to spring a counter-attack.
Jack Grealish was booked for a challenge on Raheem Sterling as the City winger was caught by the Aston Villa captain in what seemed like a fair challenge in the 36th.
David Silva came close on the brink of half time as Raheem Sterling’s rush into the box found the Spaniard clear in the centre of the box, but the veteran City midfielder shot wide.
Trezeguet could have gone close in the 45 minute, but Douglas Luiz’s cross just evaded the Egyptian’s diving header.
It took just twenty-three seconds for Aston Villa to concede in the second half as Gabriel Jesus headed a ball into the winger’s path, where he evaded Bjorn Engels to fire through Tom Heaton’s legs.
Tyrone Mings made an exceptional goal-line clearance in the 55th minute as a poor pass from Bjorn Engels allowed Gabriel Jesus a one-on-one opportunity against Tom Heaton. Heaton got an arm to the ball but the bounce would have sent the ball over the line if it was not for the quick thinking of Mings.
Fernandinho was booked in the 57th minute for body checking Jack Grealish as the midfielder-come-winger looked to break.
Manchester City scored their second of the game in the 65th minute as Kevin De Bruyne whipped in a ball from the left-hand side that seemed to evade both teams and bounced in front of David Silva and into the Aston Villa net. There was a lengthy VAR check in regards to whether Raheem Sterling was offside and blocking Heaton’s vision of the ball.
Gundogan scored their third three minutes later with a kind break following a poor clearance from Bjorn Engels allowed the German midfielder to half-volley home through Marvelous Nakamba’s legs.
Keinan Davis joined the game in the 71st minute as Wesley was replaced. Benjamin Mendy was replaced by Angelino a minute later. Phil Foden replaced Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero replaced Raheem Sterling two minutes after that.
Jack Grealish was subbed off in the 82nd minute as the Aston Villa captain looked to be struggling – with Anwar El Ghazi replacing him.
Fernandinho was sent off for pulling down a breaking Keinan Davis in the 86th minute as he picked up his second yellow card of the game.
Gabriel Jesus could have easily made it four in the dying embers of the game as his chipped effort lobbed Heaton and rebounded from the bar into the Aston Villa ‘keepers arms.
Aston Villa nearly pulled one back in the 94th, as Keinan Davis forced Ederson into a save which rebounded to McGinn, who fired towards goal. His shot bounced off the post, onto John Stones and into the arms of Ederson.