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Premier League

  • October 15, 2011
  • • 15:00
  • • Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Referee: A. Taylor
  • • Attendance: 47019
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Manchester City 4-1 Aston Villa: Mario Balotelli overhead kick sparks rout to send hosts top of Premier League

Manchester City 4-1 Aston Villa: Mario Balotelli overhead kick sparks rout to send hosts top of Premier League

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The hosts were dominant throughout at the Etihad Stadium, as Adam Johnson, Vincent Kompany and James Milner added to the Italian's extravagant first-half strike

Manchester City moved to the summit of the Premier League table in impressive fashion after beating Aston Villa 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

A first-half bicycle kick from Mario Balotelli was followed up by goals from Adam Johnson, Vincent Kompany and James Milner, as City ran riot at home. Stephen Warnock's strike shortly after City's third was to prove little more than mere consolation.

Mancini made four changes to the team that hammered Blackburn a fortnight ago, with Micah Richards, Gael Clichy, Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry replacing Pablo Zabaleta, Aleksander Kolarov, David Silva and Sergio Aguero, who, having picked up a groin tweak at Ewood Park, failed to make the Italian’s bench.

Despite City’s fine home performances prior to the game, that had seen them score nine unanswered goals in only three league games at the Etihad, McLeish sent out a team with plenty of attacking options, as Emile Heskey came in for Barry Bannan and started up front with Darren Bent as Gabriel Agbonlahor started out wide. James Collins, who had been struggling with a foot problem, was replaced by Ciaran Clark.

City's best chance of the opening spell was to come shortly after through Balotelli, who hit a fine curling effort towards Given's far post, only for the Irishman to get down magnificently to turn the ball behind. Villa were hanging on as the half hour approached.

But not for long, and it was Johnson's corner from which the hosts would secure the breakthrough, as it bounced off the sizeable chest of Richards and into the path of Balotelli, who with his back to goal, showed fine improvisation to knock a bicycle kick past Given to give City a deserved lead.

Villa returned to the pitch early after the half-time break but any fire in their bellies provided by McLeish was soon extinguished, as City doubled their lead almost instantly after the restart. Warnock failed to clear a long ball from Yaya Toure, allowing Johnson to nip in with ease and slot a calm finish past Given.

City's energy was as startling as Villa's collapse, which was completely confirmed only six minutes after Johnson's goal, as Kompany rose in the box to head home from yet another Johnson corner.

Having been cruising for much of the second half, Mancini's men let the visitors back in to proceedings, as Warnock slammed home from a matter of yards after some poor defending from a Delph cross on the right-hand side.

The day was to be soured somewhat following a head injury to Richards, who walked off gingerly after being substituted for Kolo Toure.

The home side regrouped, however, and scored the fourth goal of the second half, as Milner curled a sublime effort past Given following more fine work down the right from Johnson, to put the game beyond any doubt.

Opportunity very much taken, Mancini’s men will go into next week’s Manchester derby as league leaders and brimming with confidence.

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