Match ends, Aston Villa 0, Manchester City 2.
- Man City score two late goals in six minutes
- City move two points behind leaders Chelsea
- Aston Villa lose for the third straight game
- Christian Benteke makes league comeback
Two goals in the last eight minutes from Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero broke Aston Villa's resistance and gave Manchester City a vital victory in their pursuit of Premier League leaders Chelsea.
The champions' uncertain start to the season had seen them win only one of their previous four league games and it appeared they would drop two more points at Villa Park after being unable to find a way through Villa's resolute defence.
With Chelsea playing Arsenal on Sunday, City were facing the prospect of heading into the international break as many as eight points behind Jose Mourinho's men, but instead they signed off with a morale-boosting win.
|BBC Radio Manchester summariser Fred Eyre at Villa Park:|
|"It was hard fought for City. To Villa's credit they had a game plan which they stuck to rigidly and was hard for City to break down. But it is easier to break that down when you have special players. The constant pressure and probing paid off. From the moment Toure scored the game was won."|
Toure, who has been under scrutiny over his sluggish early-season form, was again far from his best but finally found a way past Villa's well-drilled defence when he advanced to the edge of the area after 82 minutes and flashed a shot into the bottom corner.
Aguero made certain of the three points with another fine finish from the edge of the area six minutes later.
It meant Villa, who have lost their last three games, got no reward for a battling display.
But they were able to welcome back fit-again striker Christian Benteke, who came on as a second-half substitute after six months out.
For City, relief was the over-riding emotion after it had appeared that a goal was never going to come.
They had enjoyed 69% of possession in a one-sided first half but failed to force Brad Guzan into a save.
That was mainly down to the home side's well-organised defence, who sat deep and threw themselves at the ball whenever City got near their goal.
Some shots did get through, but the closest City came to breaking Villa's resistance was when Aleksandar Kolarov saw his drilled effort deflect off Alan Hutton and come back off the outside of the post.
Edin Dzeko was guilty of some poor finishing, blazing over after making space inside the box, and Aguero's glancing header flew wide.
But the main reason Villa reached half-time with the score level was the number of timely blocks and tackles made by their defenders, particularly the impressive Nathan Baker.
Paul Lambert's side had barely threatened on the counter-attack at the other end of the pitch but that changed at the start of the second half after Aguero wasted a golden chance to put City ahead.
The Argentina striker had time to pick his spot after running on to James Milner's through-ball, but placed his shot against the post and Villa immediately raced up the other end of the pitch where Joe Hart's outstretched leg denied Kieran Richardson.
City, who were beaten here last season in another game where they saw the vast majority of the ball, continued to probe and forced Guzan into his first save after 50 minutes when he denied David Silva after the Spaniard's neat turn inside the area.
More vital stops followed, from Silva and Aguero snap-shots and also Eliaquim Mangala's towering header but, as the game entered the last 10 minutes, City's pressure eventually told.
Villa's defence, for once, was at fault as it allowed Toure too much time and he punished them ruthlessly with his first Premier League goal of the season.
Aguero's strike was also top quality, although it gave the scoreline a sheen that City did not truly deserve.
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert: "For 82 minutes we were in it and Kieran (Richardson) had a really good chance after they hit the post. That is how tight it is.
"When you play against these sides, if you get a chance you have to take it. For 82 minutes, the lads were excellent, they did really well, but the two lads that scored the goals are top players themselves."
- 28N'ZogbiaSubstituted forBacunaat 71'minutes
- 10WeimannSubstituted forBentekeat 61'minutes
- 18RichardsonSubstituted forGrealishat 71'minutes
- 24C Sánchez
- 11KolarovBooked at 24mins
- 25FernandinhoSubstituted forLampardat 56'minutes
- 42Y Touré
- 21SilvaSubstituted forNavasat 84'minutes
- 10DzekoSubstituted forRegesat 64'minutes
- Chris Foy
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Aston Villa 0, Manchester City 2.
Attempt missed. Frank Lampard (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by James Milner with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Goal! Aston Villa 0, Manchester City 2. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by James Milner.
Substitution, Manchester City. Jesús Navas replaces David Silva.
Goal! Aston Villa 0, Manchester City 1. Yaya Touré (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Fernando.
Attempt saved. Frank Lampard (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt blocked. Frank Lampard (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by James Milner.
Foul by James Milner (Manchester City).
Philippe Senderos (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Aleksandar Kolarov with a cross.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Philippe Senderos.
Attempt saved. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by David Silva.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Jack Grealish replaces Kieran Richardson.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Leandro Bacuna replaces Charles N'Zogbia.
Attempt missed. David Silva (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by James Milner with a cross.
Attempt saved. David Silva (Manchester City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Yaya Touré.
Substitution, Manchester City. Fernando replaces Edin Dzeko.
Attempt missed. David Silva (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.