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March 4, 2013
• Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee: M. Dean
• Attendance: 33217
C. Tévez 45'+
It finishes 1-0 to the visitors at Villa Park this evening, and that brings a close to our play-by-play for tonight, so thank you for joining me and stick around on site for all of the best of the post-match reaction.
Manchester City keep their slim title hopes alive with a somewhat routine scoreline but during which they rarely ever got out of second gear.
In all honesty, if Villa play like that for the rest of the season, particularly in their next two crunch games against Reading and QPR, they could well stay in the league this season and beat the drop, for their effort was first class tonight.
The game is brought to a close as Matthew Lowton hoofs the ball into his own fans. Manchester City were just about good value for their narrow 1-0 win and while Aston Villa didn't really carve out any clear-cut chances like their opponents, they will quite rightly feel aggrieved at not getting a penalty late on.
90' + 4'
Yellow Card Fabian Delph
90' + 3'
The resulting corner from Holman is quite frankly one of the worst I've ever seen as it drifts out of play before even reaching the box. What a waste.
90' + 2'
CHANCE! Lowton does well to beat Clichy down the right before laying it off to Westwood who flings in a lovely ball to the back post, but as Baker nods it across goal, Kolo Toure gets it clear for a corner. Good pressure here.
90' + 1'
We're into the first minute of the four added on for stoppage time and Villa are working the ball around the pitch looking for an opening.
City try to run down time even further by bringing on Gareth Barry for David Silva. The England international's entrance, rather unsurprisingly, is met with a chorus of boos.
Seeing that back again, that's definitely a penalty there for Aston Villa as Nastasic catches Benteke high up on the leg before he stumbles past him and goes down.
Benteke goes close to winning a penalty after a clumsy looking challenge in the box from Nastasic but Mike Riley waves play on.
Karim El Ahmadi
The visitors are just knocking the ball around the back four trying to run down time and take the sting out of Villa's urgency but they keep pressing well and they win the ball back near their own box before flooding forward again.
CHANCE! City force a corner and Garcia finds himself space after shaking off the attentions of Lowton inside the six yard box, but his volley is scooped wide of the post.
Bennett floats in a good cross to the back post and Benteke wins his header trying to get it across goal to Wiemann, but Hart collects.
Delph beats three men down the left with a great run before the ball is worked to Wiemann on the edge of the box, but he blazes his effort well over the bar.
Very close to a superb move from City there as Yaya Toure beats his man before pinging it into Nasri, who lays it off with the outside of his boot to Silva, who tries to return the favour with a ball in behind the back four, but Bennett gets across just in time to snuff out the danger.
The tempo has just dropped off a touch these past few minutes but the crowd are still roaring on the hosts on at every opportunity. Great atmosphere at Villa Park tonight.
Yellow Card Christian Benteke
As it turns out, that Yaya Toure effort that just hit the post, very much like Zabaleta's earlier in the first half which also struck the woodwork, was in fact a fantastic stop from Guzan.
CHANCE! That is brilliant from Yaya Toure, who very similarly to his goal against Chelsea, dribbles around the box before beating Westwood and smashing the post with his drilled strike, with Dzeko prodding home the rebound from an offside position.
The plan from Villa this half has been clear; scrap for everything ig get if forward early and high to Benteke, but there's simply not enough around him for that approach to have any impact.
City defend it well, though, and Kolo Toure comes away with it before knocking it down the line and away.
Wiemann goes down right on the touchline under pressure from Milner and they have an opportunity to get bodies forward now.
Villa have been well on top this past five minutes and they force a corner after Agbonlahor finds Lowton on the right flank, who then sees his cross knocked behind.
CHANCE! Westwood spread the ball to his right for Lowton to run onto at pace and when the young right-back meets it, he has Hart worried at his near post after unleashing a powerful drive which flies just wide.
Agbonlahor wriggles away from Zabaleta after a neat pass inside from Delph, but he scuffs his low cross and Nastasic intercepts.
Tevez tries to float it over the wall but just doesn't get enough on it and Villa hoof it clear trying to catch the visitors on the break but to no avail.
Baker goes in hard of Yaya Toure on the edge of the box and this free kick is in a very promising area, with Tevez looking the favourite to step up and take this one.
Hart sets Milner away with a truly superb pass down the pitch and he wins a free kick out wide in a very dangerous position.
Villa crank up the pressure with a series of good deliveries from out wide, one of which flies past the six yard box missing everyone, but they just can;t find that crucial breakthrough at the moment.
CHANCE! End-to-end stuff here with the game really opening up and as Wiemann latches on to a great ball down the right from Lowton, his cross in finds Kolo Toure who just about gets ahead of Agbonlahor to nod behind for a corner.
City move at pace down the left with Milner finding Clichy who then sends in a low cross to Dzeko, but his effort is well blocked by Baker.
A sweeping pass across the pitch from N'Zogbia to Lowton finds the right-back in plenty of room to pick a target, but his delivery is wayward and straight at Hart.
CHANCE! Lowton and Clark fail to deal with Dzeko and the striker comes away with the ball down the left before it reaches Tevez in the box, but slightly off balance, his effort is cleared off the line by the returning Clark.
Benteke plays a ball inside to Westwood who drives forward from midfield, but as the ball passes him by, Agbonlahor beats Zabaleta to it before spinning into the box, with referee Mike Riley calling it back for a foul on the right-back. Didn't seem an awful lot wrong with that challenge there.
Tevez runs onto a loose ball from well outside the area after Dzeko loses his footing and lashes a strike high and wide.
Benteke wins a free kick using his strength after Garcia fouls him following a long ball forward and Baker nods wide under pressure from Nastasic from the resulting delivery.
CHANCE! The visitors break at pace and Tevez finds Dzeko on the edge of the box, who sets himself before unleashing a volley at goal which is deflected just wide off the back of Baker.
City work the ball well to Zabaleta on the edge, but he drags his effort into a crowd of players. The game already looks a lot more open than tha first half.
Villa get us going for the second half and they already seem intent on upping the tempo with a direct approach.
For Roberto Mancini, he will simply look at how the first half ended and tell his side to give him more of the same. They've been below par, but at the moment, even that looks enough to see off a struggling Aston Villa outfit.
So what will Paul Lambert need to change at the break? He needs to get more men in and around Benteke, who looks a real handful whenever the ball has been played up to him and drill into his charges that they shouldn't drop deeper as the half wears on.
If truth be told, while City have been well below their best, they've really been turning the screw in the last 15 minutes of the half and while the eventual circumstances that led to the opener were avoidable, for all of their hard work and energy, Villa have shown little in the way of cutting edge going forward.
Mike Riley brings an end to the first half and Manchester City go in at the break a goal to the good courtesy of a Carlos Tevez goal.
45' + 2'
Bennett's cross is nodded away by Kolo Toure but Wiemann emerges from the left with a sweet volley which hits Nastasic before being deflected clear.
45' + 1'
Assist Edin Dzeko
45' + 1'
Goal Carlos Tévez
45' + 1'
GOAL! That goal has come out of nowhere and it's a tough one for Villa to concede so close to the break. Clark dithers on the ball and slips under pressure from Dzeko, who runs in on goal before squaring it to Tevez, who rounds Guzan before slotting home and beating the man on the line.
Some very manly barging from Benteke and Kolo Toure sees Villa win a free kick in a promising area down the left but nothing comes of it as Westwood's ball into the box is poor.
Milner works some space down the left, ignoring Clichy on his outside, before sending in a great ball that Tevez just fails to get something on.
Vila are just dropping deeper and deeper here and the visitors are flooding forward. A goal feels close with the break just minutes away as Westwood blazes over from 35 yards out.
CHANCE! Guzan is forced to make another excellent flying stop, this time from a Tevez effort from outside the box before Dzeko works him low down to his right with a curling strike into the corner.
City work a corner quickly on the right, with Silva giving the ball straight back to Milner in acres of space, but the England international tries to bend the ball into the far corner and puts too much on it before it floats high and wide.
CHANCE! That is a fantastic flowing move from City and as Silva plays in Tevez, his reverse pass finds Zabaleta breaking into the box, and the defender's curling effort hits the inside of the post before rolling across the goal and Bennett clears. So close to an opener there and it looks like Guzan has just got a telling touch on that strike with a superb fingertip save.
The visitors are getting more and more frustrated as a Silva through ball is just a touch too heavy for Tevez to get a foot to as it runs straight to Guzan.
Villa are working extremely hard off the ball to close City down whenever they do try to up the tempo a notch at the minute in and around the box, but can they sustain this sort of work-rate over the whole game? It will be difficult, that's for sure.
Milner has a free kick wide on the right and with numbers up, he elects to try his luck from range with a powerful low effort which skids underneath the wall, but Guzan is more than a match to it, getting down well and holding on.
The visitors work the ball across the pitch at pace and just as Yaya Toure peals off his marker with a run in behind the back four, Tevez, with one eye on the pass, plays the ball straight to N'Zogbia before fouling him trying to win it back.
A sign of how poor City have been so far, Silva has just dropped all the way deep into his own half to try and get his foot on the ball.
Good work by Agbonlahor and Delph in a tight area down the right, but importantly, they keep hold of possession and play it all the way back when they run into trouble.
Nastasic dithers on the ball and Benteke just eases him off it and to the ground, with N'Zogbia coming away with it before a heavy touch sees him give away a foul. Not one to be beaten, Dzeko does exactly the same thing at the other end straight afterwards. Sums up the evening so far.
An attacking change then with Edin Dzeko coming on for the injured Jack Rodwell.
Looks like Rodwell has tweaked that nagging hamstring complaint with that chance of his just now and that's his evening over as he walks off the pitch.
CHANCE! That Benteke chance seems to have sparked City into life and Rodwell brings a smart stop put of Guzan with a stinging drive at his near post which the goalkeeper tips over. Villa hold on after there's a foul from the resulting corner.
CHANCE! Agbonlahor's pace sees him beat Zabaleta on the outside before winning a corner which N'Zogbia throws in and Benteke emerges from nowhere to send a powerful header into the bottom corner which Tevez hacks clear off the line.
Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov is applauded around the ground, as he always is, during the 19th minute of every game.
Zabaleta picks up a cut on his head after coming off worse after getting inadvertedly kicked by N'Zogbia following a high ball forward. There's really not been much in the way of intensity from title-chasing City yet.
Delph dances round three players in midfield while never quite having full control of the ball and Villa are really working the ball around the pitch at the moment.
Surprisingly, the hosts have had 56% of the possession so far after a bright start.
Benteke brings down a long punt forward well and holds off Nastasic, who was using both arms, with ease before running into trouble with Kolo Toure. Could be a sign of things to come this evening.
Yaya Toure and Milner exchange passes in midfield before the Ivorian finds Rodwell who lets fly from a full 30 yards from goal with his left foot with the ball sailing way over the bar.
Wiemann works it to Lowton who flings in a lovely cross from the right but Nastasic clear before City break courtesy of an equally sublime pass from Milner, but Villa get enough bodies back behind the ball and the attack fizzles out.
City pressing the hosts high up the pitch when they do have the ball but this has been a decent spell of possession for Villa.
The hosts have really settled well so far and are playing at a high tempo, getting the ball forward early, but City look as if they have an extra gear when they do get the ball under control. Neatly poised.
Agbonlahor finds room down the left and Kolo Toure just about gets in front of Benteke. The big Belgium international already causing a few problems early on and he nods over from Baker's corner shortly afterwards.
Bennett gets in a cross down the left and Garcia makes a hash of the clearance, skying it up in the air before Hart makes even more of a hash of the resulting punch as he attempts to clear his lines, with Kolo Toure nodding away eventually. Some suspect defending there.
Yaya Toure is already dropping deep into a more creative role just behind Tevez, with Milner looking to run in behind.
Decent move by City, that, getting the ball down and playing it in for Tevez to run onto, but Guzan gets out early and collects.
The visitors get us underway, with Agbonlahor giving away a free kick after a crunching challenge on Zabaleta on the right flank already.
The players are out on the pitch and we're moments from kick-off.
As referee Mike Riley leads the players out, just time to bring you a couple more facts - Villa have conceded 52 goals in the top flight all campaign, which is the worst defensive record in the league. Their previous meeting this season ended 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium following David Silva's strike, and two goals each from Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez.
A few factoids for you ahead of the game: Manchester City have scored three times in each of their last four Premier League home games, but just once from their last four away matches.
Paul Lambert names the exact same starting eleven that lost 2-1 to Arsenal last time out, while Roberto Mancini makes just the one enforced change from the side that beat Chelsea 2-0, with Carlos Tevez replacing Sergio Aguero up front, who picked up a knee injury in training on Sunday.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Toure, Nastasic, Clichy, Javi Garcia, Rodwell, Milner, Toure, Silva, Tevez. Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Nasri, Dzeko, Sinclair, Kolarov, Barry.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Clark, Baker, Bennett, Weimann, Westwood, Delph, Agbonlahor, N'Zogbia, Benteke. Subs: Given, El Ahmadi, Holman, Sylla, Bowery, Dawkins, Lichaj
Good evening everyone, my name is James McManus and welcome to our play-by-play of tonight's clash between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Villa Park.
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