Custom Search 1

Lescott proves to be just fan-tastic

SCORER: Joleon Lescott after his winner against Villa

MANCHESTER CITY returned to the summit of the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Villa Park, courtesy of boyhood Villa fan Joleon Lescott.

The visitors dominated the first 70 minutes of the game and created an array of chances which should have seen them come away with a far more comfortable victory. However, Roberto Mancini’s men were often wasteful and in the end, it his team almost squandered all three points as they had goalkeeper Joe Hart to thank for a great save from Darren Bent with just a minute to go.

This match pitted Villa, who have failed to win on their home turf for six games, against a City side that, whilst flawless at the Etihad Stadium, have struggled on their travels of recent and have recorded just two wins away from home in nine games on all competitions. Far from the form of potential champions and with Manchester United dislodging them from top spot with a 2-1 victory over Liverpool on Saturday, a win here was essential.

Villa have also been looking over their shoulders, but for all the wrong reasons. The club slipped to 15th after the weekend’s other results, including local rivals West Brom’s 5-1 hammering of Wolves. And after an embarrassing lack of possession in the first-half, this game will have done little to alleviate the pressure on manager Alex McLeish.

Mancini made four changes to the side that recorded a comfortable 3-0 win against Fulham last weekend. Micah Richards dropped to the bench with Pablo Zabaleta replacing him at right-back and captain Vincent Company recovered from injury to reclaim his place at centre-back.

The Italian also opted for two defensive holding midfielders in Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry and Sergio Aguero started up-front on his own, supported by the trio of Adam Johnson, David Silva and the returning James Milner.

Villa also made changes with Emile Heskey, Gary Gardner and Marc Albrighton all slotting into the midfield and James Collins returning from injury.

In a poor first-half, the visitors will have been disappointed not to go into the break ahead after they created a host of chances and dominated possession. After just two minutes, Aguero chested the ball down in the area and took a shot but it was straight at Shay Given and the Irishman was easily able to collect.

City, through Silva in particular, delivered some great crosses but they lacked that final clinical touch to turn good chances into a goal. Aguero struggled to keep his shots down and after Barry was brought down by Heskey, Aleksandar Kolarov , known for his thunderbolt precision, wasted a free-kick from a dangerous position, striking it harmlessly over.

Villa offered little in terms of attacking threat and their best chance came on 17 minutes when they were awarded a free-kick after a de Jong foul. Captain Styliyan Petrov hooked it in from the right and although Richard Dunne rose highest and got a head to it, he could only aim it into Hart’s hands.

Barry could have got on the scoresheet against his former club. In a great move by Mancini’s side, Kolarov crossed to Milner, who then turned and teed up Barry but his effort was saved by Given. Five minutes later, Aguero ran into the area towards the byline and looped a ball across but no one was there to connect for what would have been a perfectly placed chance.

The best opportunity of the half fell to Johnson. City’s dominance really began to show as the game moved towards the half hour point and the winger hit the right-hand post. After receiving the ball from Lescott, he cut inside and unleashed an effort that had his former teammate beaten.

Johnson then turned provider in another well worked effort for the visitors. In a similar fashion to the build-up which led to Chris Baird’s own goal last week, he darted towards the goal-line before this time playing it back to Aguero. The Argentine unleashed a shot but Villa’s Alan Hutton quickly got a foot to it and hooked it to safety.

The travelling City fans were in good voice as the second half kicked-off and Kompany almost put them ahead, connecting with Milner’s corner but Hutton was again on hand to block his header. Lescott then got on the end of Silva’s free-kick which was whipped across from the right but he couldn’t turn his header goalwards and the ball went behind for a goal kick. And their supremacy continued; Zabaleta launched a stinging shot after Aguero’s lay off and Silva and Kolarov combined with the Spaniard unable to get the slight touch necessary to send the left back’s cross into the net.

The goal eventually came on 62 minutes. Silva won a free-kick on the edge of the area after falling over Petrov’s outstretched leg and Hutton headed the resulting set piece out for a corner. Milner whipped the ball in and Barry headed it down into the centre, where Lescott, a self-confessed Villa fan diverted it home from just inches out, sparking dramatic celebrations from both the players and fans.

It could have been two but Silva’s touch - after great work from Johnson - hit Given and then City had a strong case for a penalty waved away by referee Michael Oliver after Kolarov’s cross hit Hutton’s hand.

Charles N’Zogbia, dropped following his fall-out with Villa boss Alex McLeish, came on in place of the ineffective and out of position Heskey and looked lively. The same couldn’t be said of the Villa fans at this point and the loudest they were at this point was when a streaker ran onto the pitch and evaded the stewards with 15 minutes to go.

City began to take their foot off the pedal and the home side started to get more into the game. Cuellar should have done better when presented with a fantastic chance from a corner but he couldn’t divert a free header downwards and his effort went over the bar.

Darren Bent had been full of praise for his England team mate Hart before the game, describing him as the ‘best keeper in the world’ but it seemed that he would have little opportunity to show off the reflexes that have been so important to City this season.

However, just seconds before the game headed into stoppage time, Bent latched onto a loose ball and he looked set to score before Hart made a fantastic last gasp save and clawed the ball away from the goal.

A draw would have been harsh on City, and of course the fact that they secured the three points is the most important thing for their title ambitions.

However, they should not have finished this game feeling relieved and dependant on Hart. A better team would have punished their inability to close the game off.

Things to consider:
Darren Bent’s record against City is impressive. The striker has scored seven goals in 12 Premier League appearances against the Eastlands side and the £24m man hit the winner on his debut last year when Villa won this fixture 1-0. Only team hes scored more against is Bolton
If it’s a draw mention Mancini quote: “Sometimes we need to be more Italian, and make sure that if we can’t win, we don’t lose.”
City haven’t won at Villa Park since November 2006 3-1
Robbie Keane last game for Villa- 3 goals so far. Shay Given says they have been unlucky- against Newcastle and QPR. Are they unlucky today.
How to the former City players fare against their old side? Given, Dunne, Ireland. What about Milner and Barry against Villa
Does the protest go ahead?
Nov 5. Date that Villa last won at home 3-2 vs Norwich and also the date that City last scored two or more goals away from home 3-2 at QPR.
Game at Etihad 4-1 Balotelli 28, Johnson 47, Kompany 52, Milner 71. Warnock 65
Aguero didn’t play in that game injured

Subscribe to The Voice database!

We'd like to keep in touch with you regarding our daily newsletter, Voice competitions, promotions and marketing material and to further increase our reach with The Voice readers.

If interested, please click the below button to complete the subscription form.

We will never sell your data and will keep it safe and secure.

For further details visit our privacy policy.

You have the right to withdraw at any time, by clicking 'Unsubscribe'.

Facebook Comments