Manchester City failed to impress against a resolute Aston Villa defence, but they got the goal they needed to beat their opponents in Birmingham regardless. City needed at least a draw to go back to the top of the Premier League table following Manchester United's 2-1 win against Liverpool on Saturday, but any fear that they'd fail to achieve that would have vanished in the face of Alex McLeish's strategy of refusing to allow his team to do anything that could be remotely construed as positive football.
The defending, however, went pretty well for much of the match. City had all of the possession but surprisingly few clear-cut chances - the closest they came to scoring in the first half was when Adam Johnson hit the base of the post from outside the area. They finally got their breakthrough after the interval, however, with Joleon Lescott volleying a knocked-down corner past Shay Given to give his side the 1-0 lead.
Villa still hadn't mounted a meaningful attack and waited until the very end of the match to do anything exciting - although a streaker did provide the home fans some entertainment. As injury time loomed, things got interesting. A pair of corner kicks resulted in Carlos Cuellar heading over and then Joe Hart saving superbly from Darren Bent as full time loomed, but the late flurry didn't yield the equaliser and cost Villa Richard Dunne, who was forced off after a clash with Hart with what looked like a dislocated shoulder.
With the win, City go two points clear of United at the top. Villa, meanwhile, remain in fifteenth, although they're still well clear of the relegation battle.