Manchester City – Aston Villa was an absolutely bonkers game, as City eventually outlasted Villa to seal a ninth-straight win in all competitions to move top of the Premier League table for the first time this season, albeit temporarily.
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A controversial opener from Bernardo Silva set City on their way and Ilkay Gunodgan netted a late penalty kick to seal the win against a spirited Villa side.
With the win City moved top of the table on 38 points and they have a game in-hand on their rivals, but Manchester United regained top spot later on Wednesday after being Fulham. Villa sit on 26 points.
Three things we learned
1. Incredible game shows PL at its best: Silva’s goal was the 36th shot at goal during the game. 36th. It was a crazy end-to-end clash in the heavy rain in Manchester, as Man City just had too much for Villa in the end but it was like a basketball game. Villa had one chance, then City had two. Villa made two great blocks, then City made one. It was a treat to watch and proved that Villa can hang with the best in the PL, but Man City had just too much quality.
2. Gundogan in fine form: The German playmaker has been sensational in recent months, and as great as Kevin de Bruyne has been he’s been a unsung hero in midfield. Gundogan has dominated games, pushed forward from central areas and has dictated play. He’s been unlucky with injuries since he arrived from Borussia Dortmund but finally he’s stayed fit for a long period of time and has been a leader for City. His experience is shinning through and he is vital to dictating the tempo that Man City want to play at. They are a better passing team, and better team overall, when Gundogan plays.
3. Villa undone by unlucky decision: Dean Smith was sent off for his remonstration to referee Jon Moss, and he will think that was justified. It looked like the crucial first goal should not have stood. Rodri was coming back from an offside position, won the ball back and played it to Silva to score. The rule stated that when Tyrone Mings controlled the ball it was then live and it didn’t matter where Rodri was as he wasn’t gaining an advantage. Work that out… Villa played well but will again rue missed chances.
Man of the Match: Ilkay Gundogan – He did everything and totally dominated the game. He is in really fine form and is a key reason why City sit top of the table.
Manchester City started off superbly as Silva was denied brilliantly by Emiliano Martinez, then Matty Cash and Tyrone Mings somehow blocked John Stones’ follow up.
Phil Foden then wriggled into the box but Villa continued to chuck themselves in front of anything Man City threw at them.
At the other end Aston Villa were dangerous on the counter as Ross Barkley raced cleared but passed straight to Joao Cancelo as a huge chance came and went.
De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Foden caused problems galore but Villa defended heroically, and Barkley curled towards goal at the other end but Ederson saved.
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At the start of the second half Bertrand Traore worked his magic on the break with a lovely bit of control but Ederson saved his shot. Joao Cancelo hit the bar after fine work from De Bruyne, then Ilkay Gundogan slipped as he sent a shot wide.
Gundogan then somehow failed to convert from close range as Villa made amazing blocks, while Jacob Ramsey was denied twice at the other end, once by Ederson and once by Ruben Dias, as Villa kept creating.
Silva then smashed home a beauty to open the scoring, as the ball broke to him on the edge of the box and he rifled home a stunner.
Villa boss Dean Smith was sent off as he lashed out at the decision to let the goal stand as he felt that Rodri was offside before he challenged for the ball, but the goal stood and City marched on to the top of the table as Gundogan scored a late penalty kick after a handball from Cash.