The former City player stood opposite the man who usurped him in the team but he showed why he is still one of the best goalkeepers around with a flawless display.
Normally an attacking fullback, this was a performance of considerable restraint from the Scot who showed his defensive discipline to frustrate the City forwards. Made one mistake where he gifted possession on half way but Collins intercepted.
After three games out with a calf injury it was not an easy match to return to but he looked assured back alongside Dunne as the two old-school defenders put their bodies on the line against the City forwards.
Asked to play at left back with Collins returning and Warnock out of form, he looked uncomfortable in forward areas when he ventured out of his half on rare occasions but he held his discipline at the back with Johnson unable to repeat his Fulham performance.
Another former City player, the center back often raises his performances in the big games and today was no exception with last ditch blocks to get in the way of the many shots raining in on the Villa goal.
In for the injured Clark he looked comfortable alongside Petrov as City continually probed in front of him. There was no lack of effort but understandably against such experienced and class opposition he failed to assert himself much on the game.
Similar to his midfield partner Gardner in that there was nothing expansive in his game but he sat back and helped to frustrate the City players. His set pieces cause problems all match.
Another player back from injury, the winger’s defensive skills – which have not always been his strength – were put into question once again. However, apart from allowing Johnson to go round him once he gave Cuellar plenty of assistance as City struggled to find much joy down the flanks.
Last time here he scored his 100th Premier League goal but any chance of extending his total was diminished by the complete lack of service he received. It is in games like this where his presence is not felt on the pitch although it took a wonder save to deny him at the death.
Given a great reception in his last home match before returning to America, he found time on the ball much more at a premium which negated his threat somewhat but on the few times he found himself in a good position there were signs of the class which he has brought to the Villa squad in his short time with them.
Deployed in the unfamiliar position of right wing, his presence was clearly down to his high work rate and aerial threat from the many long balls delivered his way. After a long period without a start he was understandably rusty and unable to deliver going forward despite always helping out the defense.
After a comfortable afternoon with little to do he showed his class with an unbelievable reflex save to deny Bent before coming to clear a ball into the area as City held on.
Up against the presence of Heskey he showed why he was included ahead of Clichy by winning a fair share battles and getting forward to good effect. Had once chance from a free kick but unusually he put it over the bar.
A surprise inclusion ahead of Richards and although he defended well the attacking verve of the Englishman would have been a much bigger threat for the Villa defense.
Even more solid at the back than Kompany with every ball delivered towards him dealt with efficiently and moved on straight away. The goal topped up an excellent performance. Kolo Toure will find it hard to displace him on this form.
A returning presence in the heart of defense and a welcome one with Bent not given a sniff in front of goal or in the air. City will be relieved to have him back.
Saw a fair share of the ball to begin with in a bright beginning but with de Jong covering he failed to get far enough forward to really make a telling contribution in the game in open play, but he delivered from Milner's corner as his header back was turned in by Lescott.
After a few early misplaced passes he began to get into his stride, firstly by testing Given after jinking his way past one player and then through his excellent vision. His touch and movement alongside Aguero were a delight to watch and it was just a shame that he could not find a goal or assist to match his performance.
N. de Jong
In the last Premier League match before Yaya Toure returns the Dutchman did little to suggest he will keep his place in the side. Although solid in the holding role City needed more of an attacking threat coming from central midfield.
After his match-winning – and controversial – performance against Fulham this was a more subdued effort with Cuellar doping well with his dribbling for the most part. One long-range effort which struck the outside of the post was without doubt his greatest contribution.
Was allowed to drift like Silva in an attacking position but he failed to see anywhere near as much of the ball. However, his set pieces were always a threat with a few players coming close before Lescott finally scored.
A performance very similar to Silva’s with plenty of pace and skill but the Argentinean will be disappointed not to have capped it off with a goal having wasted many shooting opportunities.