Man City ease by Aston Villa, close gap at the top
Manchester City beat Aston Villa 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday as Pep Guardiola’s side cut the gap to league leaders Liverpool to three points.
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The reigning Premier League champs scored three times in the second half as Villa were stubborn but barely threatened in attack. Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne (it looked like David Silva got the final touch) and Ilkay Gundogan grabbed the goals for City as they won with minimum fuss. Fernandinho was sent off for a second yellow card, which means he will miss the League Cup game against Southampton in midweek.
Man City now have 22 points from their opening 10 games of the season, while Villa remain on 11 points.
3 things we learned
1. Sterling’s incredible season continues: Sterling has scored 13 times in 14 appearances in all competitions so far this season. That is an amazing start for the winger. Sterling’s ability to finish chances has improved dramatically and he’s even angry at himself for not scoring or creating more. He is now so efficient in the final third and was so dangerous as Villa didn’t know what to do with him.
2. Man City put the pressure on Liverpool: A few weeks ago City were out of the title race and everyone was handing the trophy to Liverpool. If Jurgen Klopp’s men slip up against Spurs on Sunday, their lead atop the table could be cut to three or four points. Man City look comfortable at being the hunters, just as they proved last season. It almost helps Guardiola’s men as they crank through the gears and there is extra intensity to their game. City would love to be leading the PL but after their shock defeat against Wolves they have responded well.
3. Villa will be top 10 contenders: They kept City out for 45 minutes but one lapse in concentration cost Aston Villa. Dean Smith will be disappointed with that but he knows that getting points against Man City this week and Liverpool next week would a be a bonus. The newly-promoted side look capable of taking care of business against teams in the bottom half of the table and Villa look set to challenge for a top 10 finish.
Man of the Match: Raheem Sterling - His incredible goalscoring exploits are backed up by his dangerous runs, passes and movement in the final third. He is in the form of his life and driving City on. Superb display.
Man City should have taken the lead as Sterling and David Silva set up the chance and Jesus fired a shot inches wide.
Sterling’s shot then deflected off Bjorn Engels arm and wide and although the home players appealed for a penalty kick, VAR checked and waved the calls away.
On the break Aston Villa almost took the lead as John McGinn curled a powerful shot towards the bottom corner which Ederson saved and on the rebound VAR was used as Douglas Luiz claimed he was taken down by a combination of Fernandinho and Joao Cancelo.
Villa then appealed for another penalty kick as Trezeguet’s was blocked by John Stones but nothing was given, and at the other end Sterling flicked a header just wide after good play from Benjamin Mendy and Silva.
David Silva went close just before the break as he somehow put his shot wide after Sterling’s trickery, as Villa left City frustrated.
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It took 30 seconds of the second half for City to take the lead as Ederson’s clearance was flicked on by Jesus and Sterling finished to make it 1-0. Easy.
Mendy then had a shot across goal deflected wide as City piled on the pressure, the Engels gave the ball away and Jesus’ shot was saved by Heaton then somehow cleared off the line by Mings.
Villa remained dangerous on the break but City wrapped up the win as De Bruyne’s cross seemed to flick off David Silva’s foot and after a lengthy VAR check with Sterling close to touching the ball from an offside position, the goal stood. 2-0.
Gundogan made it 3-0 soon after as KDB’s corner was kept alive by Fernandinho who whipped the ball across goal and the German midfielder finished in style. Game. Set. Match.
Late on Fernandinho was sent off for picking up a second yellow card, while substitute Phil Foden twice went close, Jesus hit the bar and McGinn hit the post in a wild finale.