Lescott fires City back to top
City go two points clear of United
Last Updated: 12/02/12 8:18pm
Manchester City moved back to the top of the Premier League table with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa at Villa Park.
City grabbed the only goal of the game on 63 minutes when Joleon Lescott finally broke Villa's resistance with a close-range finish against his boyhood club.
James Milner swung over a corner where Gareth Barry was on hand to knock it back to Lescott to who expertedly hooked it home inside the six-yard box.
The win was nothing more than City deserved after dominating the game from the very first minute against a disappointing Villa side.
Joe Hart secured the win for City in the final minute when he produced a brilliant reflex save to keep out Darren Bent's close-range effort.
That is a run of five defeats and two draws, the kind of form that will have Villa nervously looking over their shoulders at the seven-point gap to the relegation zone.
It also further increases the pressure on manager Alex McLeish, who was the subject of a planned protest before kick off.
It was a low-key affair attended by around 100 or so fans, with more looking on, mainly with amusement.
There were a few banners such as 'Had Your Chance McLeish Out' and a few chants along the lines of 'You'll be sacked in the morning'.
That will not happen, of course, but on the evidence of this display you perhaps appreciate the frustration of those supporters at what they are watching these days.
The first half was instantly forgettable from a Villa perspective as McLeish's side mustered one half chance, that a looping header from Richard Dunne in meeting a Stiliyan Petrov free-kick that was comfortably collected by goalkeeper Hart.
Opposite number Shay Given was by far the busier, but even then he was barely extended to any great degree, despite City's dominance.
Appreciably, where Villa did shine was in defence, with central pairing James Collins and Dunne particularly solid in meeting head on the attacking firepower City possess, notably via Sergio Aguero and David Silva.
As early as the third minute the duo signalled their intent, with Silva knocking a tame Collins clearance into the path of Aguero for an edge-of-the-area shot collected by Given at the second attempt.
The Republic of Ireland international again denied Silva in the 19th minute with another save low down after the Spaniard had teased his way into the area.
Given followed that up with a stop from former Villa star Gareth Barry whose shot took a slight deflection off Silva, but was not enough to send him in the wrong direction.
The only time Given was beaten in the first half was when Johnson cracked in a low left-foot shot that ricocheted out of play off the left-hand post.
It proved to be the highlight of a relatively insipid half as Villa lacked any creative spark, and whilst City obviously had the edge, it was not as cutting as has previously proven to be.
Whatever McLeish's words at half time, they inspired, but all too briefly.
Although Villa enjoyed more sustained possession for the opening few minutes than at any time in the first period, they failed to do anything with it.
Instead, it was City who again carved out the first chance of the period, with Silva teeing up Zabaleta for a rocket of an angled shot from 16 yards, but again with Given firmly behind the ball.
Pressure, however, soon began to mount and it finally told in the 63rd minute, with centre-back Lescott scoring his third goal of the season.
It was a goal created in claret and blue as James Milner's inswinging corner to the far post was met by a knock back from Barry into the danger area of the six-yard box for Lescott to delightfully hook home.
It was not until a male streaker appeared in the 75th minute that Villa livened up, twice coming close to an equaliser in the dying moments.
Initially Carlos Cuellaer planted a free header over the bar in meeting a Petrov corner before Hart pulled off a brilliant save to thwart Darren Bent from close range.
But it was too little too late from a Villa perspective as City ultimately returned to winning ways on the road.
|Aston Villa||Team Statistics||Manchester City|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||7|
|3||Shots off Target||8|
|32.2||1st Half Poss.||67.8|
|38.1||2nd Half Poss.||61.9|
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|12||West Ham United||29||31|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||29||28|