Manchester City beat Aston Villa 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday as a breathtaking finale took some of the attention way from a horrendous goalkeeping blunder from Brad Guzan.
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City went 1-0 up as Guzan shanked the ball straight to Sergio Aguero to score and in the second half Aleksandar Kolarov whipped home a free kick to make it 2-0. To Villa’s credit they never stopped believing and were level after Tom Cleverley and Carlos Sanchez scored to make it 2-2 with five minutes to go. Then the game winning moment arrived as Fernandinho finished coolly in the 89th minute to sent City momentarily into second place.
With the win City move up to second on 67 points, while Villa remain in battle against relegation as they sit two points above the bottom three with four games to go.
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City took an early lead after Guzan’s horrendous mistake let in Aguero. The U.S. international goalkeeper recieved the ball back from Villa’s center back Ron Vlaar and as he went to play a pass out to his right with his left foot, the ball hit his standing feet and skewed right into the path of Aguero who couldn’t believe his luck before tapping home his 27th goal of the season. 1-0 to City, as Guzan’s name will join the pantheons of soccer gaffes.
The Illinois native continued his rough start to the match as he completely missed a cross moments later but Fernando failed to head home. Yaya Toure had a low drive which Guzan collected and 22 minutes in, Villa had still not woken up as Leandro Bacuna sent a terrible back pass toward his own goal which Aguero picked up and the move ended with Jesus Navas having a thunderous shot well blocked.
That effort seemed to finally wake the Villans from their slumber and in the 26th minute Benteke, who looked offside, was denied by a brilliant sprawling stop from City’s goalkeeper Joe Hart after the ball pinballed around the box and found Villa’s towering Belgian striker in acres of space. For the rest of the first half Villa gradually got into the game but couldn’t equalize before the break.
In the second half City eased into a 2-0 lead as Kolarov found a huge hole in Villa’s defensive wall from a free kick 25-yards out and the Serbian left back bent it through the gap and into the near post. 2-0 to City.
Just when you thought the Citizens were going to flip the switch to cruise control, Villa were handed a lifeline. A looping free kick from the left flank saw Hart come running out of his goal but the ball dropped to Benteke and as City’s defenders half cleared, Cleverley ran onto the loose ball and hammered it into the ground and into the net. 2-1.
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Hart rushed out again five minutes later to thwart an onrushing Charles N’Zogbia, but Villa kept coming at City and were level after 85 minutes when a corner from the right caught Hart in a crowd as he came to collect and Sanchez calmly volleyed home. 2-2 as City’s 2-0 lead had evaporated.
A poor giveaway from Martin Demichelis then looked to have let Villa in for what could have been a winner but Benteke, who looked to be onside, was flagged for offside as he was fouled by Hart. City then launched an attack which would see them win the game, as a corner from the left found its way through to Fernandinho at the back post who chested the ball and acrobatically finished in the 89th minute. 3-2 to the Citizens as Pellegrini breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Mangala, Kolarov, Fernando, Lampard (Milner, 57′), Navas, Yaya Toure (Fernandinho, 45′), Silva, Aguero (Bony, 83′)
Goals: Aguero (3′), Kolarov (66′), Fernandinho, (89′)
Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna (Lowton, 87′), Okore, Vlaar, Richardson, Sanchez, Westwood (N’Zogbia, 68′), Cleverley, Delph, Grealish, Benteke. Subs: Given, Weimann, Cole, Senderos, Cissokho, N’Zogbia, Lowton
Goals: Cleverley (68′), Sanchez (85′)