Ten-man City overcome Villa to move closer to the title
10-man City took another big step towards regaining the Premier League title as we stretched our lead at the top to 11 points thanks to a dramatic victory at Aston Villa.
Having fallen behind to a goal on 20 seconds from John McGinn, Pep Guardiola’s men hit back to lead through first half goals from Phil Foden and Rodrigo.
However, City were then reduced to 10-men on the stroke of half-time when John Stones were shown a straight red card after a challenge on Jacob Ramsey.
On a night of high drama in the Midlands, Villa were then also reduced to 10 men early after the restart as Matty Cash was shown a red card for a foul on Foden with an impressive City holding firm to secure a deserved victory.
City had resumed league action seeking to make a positive start – instead we were rocked on our heels by a bolt from the Claret and Blue as Villa stormed into the lead inside 20 seconds.
A long curling ball from Tyrone Mings put Ollie Watkins clear on the left flank and his cutback found John McGinn who fired a crisp first-time left foot shot from 12 yards past Ederson.
It was the quickest goal we had conceded in Premier League history.
However, Guardiola’s men dusted themselves down and soon assumed our trademark territorial dominance, zipping the ball about with pace and poise.
And on 22 minutes City were deservedly level thanks to Phil Foden’s wonderful strike.
It was a stunning move initially started by Ederson before Foden whipped in a superb crossfield pass to Mahrez on the right edge of the box who, in turn, fed Bernardo Silva on the overlap.
Foden meanwhile had powered into the box and then executed the perfect finish to Bernardo’s inviting ball to register his 14th goal of the season.
With City motoring up through the gears, it seemed only a matter of time before we struck again and a second goal duly arrived on 40 minutes.
Bernardo provided the assist once again, dinking in an inviting cross from the right flank and Rodrigo rose first in the box to head past Martinez and fire us ahead.
However, an action-packed first half then saw City reduced to 10 men when John Stones was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Jacob Ramsey after a lengthy VAR check by referee Peter Bankes.
Villa may have had the early second half numerical advantage but City continued to look to stretch and threaten Villa at every opportunity.
And on 57 minutes, the hosts were themselves were reduced to 10 men when Matty Cash, already on a yellow, was dismissed for a rash challenge on the irrepressible Foden.
City could have gone on and added to our advantage, with Mahrez and Bernardo both coming close, but it was a deserved triumph and another excellent team display.
There is something about Wednesday nights which brings the best out in City.
Tonight’s victory means we have now won 15 successive Premier League fixtures on Wednesdays, the best run on a specific day other than Saturday in the competition's history.
Our latest triumph on the road also made it a 10th successive Premier League away victory for Guardiola’s side.
It’s a remarkable effort and means we are the first team to achieve the feat more than once, having won 11 top flight games in a row between May-December 2017.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Phil Foden was again at the heart of so much of City’s best work.
A superb 14th goal of the season summed up another superb display by the England international who once again married inspiration with perspiration in aid of the team and was a threat all night long.
He just gets better and better.
WHAT IT MEANS
Our latest league win means we stretch our lead at the top of the table to 11 points with five games remaining.
The mathematics mean that regardless of what second-placed Manchester United do in their six remaining matches, eight more points and we will be Premier League champions.
City return to Wembley for the second time in eight days this Sunday, this time to tackle Tottenham Hotspur in the Carabao Cup final.
We will be seeking a fourth successive League Cup final success with kick-off getting underway at 16.30pm (GMT)
Aston Villa (1): Emi Martínez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Nakamba (Barkley, 63’), Douglas Luiz; Traoré (El Ghazi, 75’), McGinn, Ramsey (Davis, 45’); Watkins
Manchester City (2): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Rúben Dias, Zinchenko; Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Gündogan; Mahrez (Fernandinho, 90’), Foden, Gabriel Jesus (Laporte, 45’)
Goals: 1-0, McGinn (1’), 1-1, Foden (22’), 1-2, Rodri (39’)
Referee: Peter Bankes. Amonestados: Gündogan (45’), Cash (54’, 56’). Sent off: Stones (42’), Cash