Premier League
Man CityManchester City3Aston VillaAston Villa0

Man City 3-0 Aston Villa: Champions cut Liverpool's lead to three points

By Chris BevanBBC Sport at Etihad Stadium
Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling's goal came just 20 seconds into the second half - the fastest second-half goal in the Premier League since Gerard Deulofeu v West Ham in May (11 seconds)

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says his side showed relegation form in the first half of their win over Aston Villa, as they cut Liverpool's lead at the top of the table to three points.

City, who are in second place in the Premier League, scored three second-half goals to see off a determined Villa side.

But Guardiola was unimpressed with the way the defending champions started the game - apart from Raheem Sterling, whom he felt led by example with his attacking play.

Speaking about his side's title challenge, Guardiola said: "I am not concerned about the table, I am concerned all the time with how we play.

"If we play at the level we did in the second half, we can be there until the end of the season, I am sure of that.

"But if we play like we did in the first half, we will be relegated or in the relegation positions, far away from leading the table. We did not play the way we should play, and the only player who was aggressive when we had the ball was Raheem.

"In the second half we imitated him. He showed us the way we wanted to play, and it was much better."

Liverpool can restore their six-point advantage if they beat Tottenham on Sunday - although after dropping points last weekend, the Reds go into that game knowing they now have the defending champions breathing down their neck.

As Guardiola acknowledged, it did not always look like turning out that way for City, who had to work hard to break down a well-organised Villa side.

The visitors had largely frustrated City in the first half but their resistance lasted for only 20 seconds after the restart.

After Villa squandered possession from their own kick-off, Ederson's long punt forward was flicked on by Gabriel Jesus and into the path of Sterling, who made no mistake.

Jesus should have made it 2-0 soon afterwards when a mistake by Bjorn Engels left him clean through, but a combination of a Tom Heaton save and a brilliant goal-line clearance by Tyrone Mings denied him.

City had to wait until the 65th minute for their second goal, which confusingly was eventually awarded to David Silva, after a long delay for a VAR decision that had concluded it was Kevin de Bruyne's goal.

It was unclear at first glance whether Silva or Sterling, who would have been offside from a Silva touch, had got a deflection on De Bruyne's wicked curling cross but after a four-minute delay that was met with derision by both sets of fans, it was ruled it had gone straight in and was allowed to stand.

However, some time after the final whistle, the goal accreditation panel - an independent entity which has no affiliation with VAR - awarded the goal to Silva, who had wheeled away in celebration.

Nonetheless, Ilkay Gundogan made absolutely sure of the points a few moments later, when Fernandinho's shot was cleared into his path, and he expertly adjusted his body to put away a fine first-time finish.

The hosts finished the game with 10 men after Fernandinho was shown a second yellow card.

Villa work hard but Grealish fails to shine

Villa came to a sodden Etihad Stadium after taking seven points from their previous three games, and with the message from their manager Dean Smith that City were "not superhuman" and they had nothing to fear.

They did more than just keep City quiet in a tight opening period, with John McGinn bringing a fine fingertip stop from Ederson - the Scot also went close to a consolation before the end when he hit the post after the City keeper had denied Douglas Luiz.

Smith questions VAR decision for Silva goal

The only slight disappointment from Villa's point of view was that they did not see more of Jack Grealish with the ball at his feet in the City half, the midfielder's role here involving rather more defensive duties.

There were still some neat passes and a couple of trademark flashes of his quick feet that saw the away fans break into chants of 'Super Jack', but he did not create a single chance or do much to back up his claims this week that he wants a senior England call-up.

Guardiola has more defensive issues

Fernandinho's late dismissal gives Guardiola another problem in the centre of his defence, with the Brazilian set to miss next week's game against Southampton while he serves his suspension.

Sterling gave Man City energy - Guardiola

The 34-year-old has been the only real fixture in City's defence in recent weeks and, although he will be back for the crucial trip to play Liverpool at Anfield on 10 November, his absence means Guardiola will be forced into another reshuffle in the meantime.

With Aymeric Laporte out until the new year and the versatile Rodri recently sidelined for up to a month, it was a boost for City that John Stones was fit enough to face Villa for his first start since 14 September, although his mistake to gift McGinn possession for his early chance was hardly a reassuring sight.

Guardiola also has Nicolas Otamendi available, with the Argentine left on the bench on Saturday, but he and Stones have not played together since City's capitulation against Norwich at Carrow Road.

Whatever combination the City manager goes for next, it seems his search for a consistent line-up at the back will go on for a few more weeks.

Man of the match - Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

Raheem Sterling
Villa doubled up on Sterling in the first half and still could not subdue him and he punished them in typically ruthless style when they gave him space at the start of the second half. His prolific scoring run shows no sign of stopping and he now has 13 goals in 14 appearances for his club this season.

'It was a special second half' - what they said

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith speaking to BBC Match of the Day: "I am disappointed with the manner of the goals we conceded. We came with a gameplan and I thought we showed some good enterprise going forward.

"We started quite well in the second half, and City's first goal is just a lump from the goalkeeper. Tyrone Mings should do better and he knows that then but a top player like Raheem Sterling puts it on the back of the net.

"But I would question City's second goal: I think Raheem Sterling is offside and he impedes the goalkeeper from making the save."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola speaking to BBC Match of the Day: "Aston Villa played very well in the first half and we played not so good. They are newly promoted and played with real spirit, attacking the channels well.

"But the second half, I don't know if we played good because we scored early or it was because we played differently, but we won. It was a special second half, we were another level."

City continue their run against the Villans - the stats

  • Manchester City have won their past 10 Premier League home games against Aston Villa by an aggregate score of 33-4. It's their joint-longest winning run at home versus a single opponent in Premier League history (also currently 10 v Newcastle).
  • Pep Guardiola has lost just one of his 20 Premier League matches against newly promoted teams as City manager (W15 D4 L1).
  • Villa have lost 14 of their past 15 away games against City in the Premier League (W1), with nine different managers suffering a loss while in charge in this run.
  • Villa are winless in their past 14 Premier League games against reigning champions, drawing three and losing the past 11 in the run.
  • Raheem Sterling has scored in 43 Premier League games for City without ever finishing on the losing side (W41 D2 L0) - he's scored in more games for a single club without ever losing than any other player in the competition's history.
  • Fernandinho made his 200th Premier League appearance - the third Brazilian to reach this milestone after Chelsea's Willian (206) and former Liverpool player Lucas Leiva (247).
  • Fernandinho has been sent off at Etihad Stadium more times (three) than any other player in the Premier League since it opened in 2003.

What next?

City continue their defence of the Carabao Cup with a fourth-round tie at home to Southampton on Tuesday (19:45 GMT) and host the same opposition four days later in the Premier League on Saturday (15:00 GMT).

Villa are at home to Wolves in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday (19:45 GMT) and then take on Liverpool at Villa Park in the league on Saturday (15:00 GMT).


Man City

Formation 4-3-3

  • 31Ederson
  • 27Cancelo
  • 25FernandinhoBooked at 87mins
  • 5Stones
  • 22MendySubstituted forAngelinoat 73'minutes
  • 17De BruyneSubstituted forFodenat 76'minutes
  • 8GündoganBooked at 81mins
  • 21Silva
  • 20Bernardo Silva
  • 9Gabriel Jesus
  • 7SterlingSubstituted forAgüeroat 76'minutes


  • 1Bravo
  • 2Walker
  • 10Agüero
  • 12Angelino
  • 26Mahrez
  • 30Otamendi
  • 47Foden

Aston Villa

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 1Heaton
  • 24Guilbert
  • 22Engels
  • 40Mings
  • 18Targett
  • 11Nakamba
  • 17Trézéguet
  • 7McGinn
  • 6Douglas Luiz
  • 10GrealishBooked at 36minsSubstituted forEl Ghaziat 84'minutes
  • 9WesleySubstituted forDavisat 71'minutes


  • 3Taylor
  • 8Lansbury
  • 12Steer
  • 14Hourihane
  • 15Konsa
  • 21El Ghazi
  • 39Davis
Graham Scott

Match Stats

Home TeamMan CityAway TeamAston Villa
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Manchester City 3, Aston Villa 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Manchester City 3, Aston Villa 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt saved. John McGinn (Aston Villa) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

  4. Post update

    Attempt saved. Keinan Davis (Aston Villa) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  5. Post update

    Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) hits the bar with a right footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Phil Foden.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Björn Engels.

  7. Post update

    Attempt missed. Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

  8. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Trézéguet (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Marvelous Nakamba.

  9. Dismissal

    Second yellow card to Fernandinho (Manchester City) for a bad foul.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Fernandinho (Manchester City).

  11. Post update

    Keinan Davis (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Fernandinho (Manchester City) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is blocked. Assisted by Phil Foden with a cross.

  13. Post update

    Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Tom Heaton.

  14. Post update

    Attempt saved. Phil Foden (Manchester City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Gabriel Jesus.

  15. Post update

    Attempt blocked. David Silva (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Bernardo Silva.

  16. Post update

    Attempt saved. Trézéguet (Aston Villa) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Tyrone Mings.

  17. Post update

    Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by John Stones.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Aston Villa. Anwar El Ghazi replaces Jack Grealish.

  19. Post update

    Attempt saved. Phil Foden (Manchester City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Bernardo Silva.

  20. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Phil Foden.


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6Crystal Palace9423810-214
7Sheff Utd1034398113
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