Aston Villa vs. Manchester City: Final score 0-1, City squeak past Villa in Birmingham

Michael Regan

A calamitous error from Ciaran Clark saw Manchester City earn all three points at Villa Park, although a late penalty shour will leave Aston Villa annoyed at not getting at least a draw.

Aston Villa got off to a strong start, keeping their guests pegged back in their own half for most of the opening thirty minutes, but Manchester City's defence held strong. Villa created virtually nothing from open play, and although Christian Benteke did manage to wriggle free on a corner to head goalward Carlos Tevez was on hand to clear off the line.

Despite not being able to seriously threaten Joe Hart's goal, the hosts were doing superbly to contain the defending champions. Until, that is, Jack Rodwell was forced off with an injury, leading Roberto Mancini to throw on an extra striker in Edin Dzeko.

The momentum immediately changed. David Silva began exerting a greater influence on the match, setting up Pablo Zabaleta for a vicious shot that Brad Guzan got a palm to before the ball crashed off the inside of the post and to safety. Villa were eventually undone, however, not by City's creative attacked but by a basic defensive error.

Ciaran Clark had no business dallying on the ball in first half injury time, but he did anyway and allowed Dzeko to run onto him and relieve the young centre half of possession. The Bosnian, accompanied by Tevez, surged into the box, and neither Nathan Baker nor Guzan were up to the task of keeping the visitors at bay, leaving Tevez with a simple finish into the bottom corner.

Villa nearly went further behind early in the second half when Dzeko again won the ball deep in their territory and set up Tevez again. This time, the effort was kept out via a desperate block from Matthew Lowton. Later, Dzeko managed to force a shot home after Yaya Toure's excellent strike had crashed off the upright only to see the goal pulled back for offside.

Keeping the match within a goal, however, didn't do the hosts much good. They couldn't put enough pressure on Hart's goal to snatch a point -- and Mike Dean didn't help when he ignored Matija Nastasic downing Benteke with a kick in the penalty area -- and the match finished with a broadly-deserved 1-0 win for City.

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