Manchester City recorded a pulsating 3-1 victory over Champions League contenders Aston Villa to continue our push for Europe. John Carew opened the scoring but an entertaining comeback which included goals from Carlos Tevez, Adebayor and Bellamy left the home fans jubilant.
With Tottenham in the Champions League driving seat, today was an afternoon where both teams had an opportunity to destroy the opposition`s chances of the illusive Champions League berth as well as continuing to push themselves. Aston Villa have regularly been part of the chasing pack, but haven`t had the end of season consistency to earn a fourth spot finish. This season, long outsiders and recently forgotten by the pundits, Villa had the chance to seize the initiative and regain serious hope of finishing fourth. A tremendous away record sent them to Eastland`s hopeful of gate crashing our own hopes. Manchester City, well, we have been favourites for most of the campaign, sturdy and resilient at home we have major hopes and aspirations to topple the top four monopoly.
City have often had the upper hand at Eastland`s in this fixture, but Villa are a team full of English determined spirit, they counter attack with raw speed and have a target man in John Carew who is a very strong competitor. City started the brighter, the fans were urging their side on and we sensed a terrific performance. We attacked with regularity, Villa were pinned back, Johnson was sending over countless corners, but we were thwarted. Villa found it difficult to get out their own half, so it was surprising they managed to take the lead. That man John Carew, far from elegant, but certainly destructive, galloped with ease into our box, fending off Toure he hit an early shot at the nervous Fulop. His shot took a slight deflection and sheer silence arose when the ball crept into the back of the net.
This was against the run of play, it took the home fans by complete surprise and the nerves were slowly entering the players` minds. We attacked, we pushed them back but couldn`t find an answer to break down a Villa defence, marshalled by Richard Dunne, once our Mr invincible. Tackles were last ditch, blocking every shot, preventing every move. Friedel was at his usual best, a remarkable save prevented Bellamy before several penalty shouts were rightly turned down. Finally we had a perfect appeal, Johnson was played in, he jinked his way into the box until Warnock brought him down, his heads were in his hands and everyone knew this was a pivotal moment. Tevez stepped up and had the whole weight of City on his shoulders, unfazed he stepped up and struck the penalty under Friedel to level the scores.
The attacking play was admirable and we were finally rewarded for our persistence. However, it was only seconds later until our joy was nearly turned into more disappointment. Carew again strode forward but this time saw his shot cannon back off the bar. A huge shriek from the crowd, finally died down and it was our time to attack. The fire was in our belly, we were desperate for another and the crowd urged the players on, again Johnson twisted and turned his way into the box, he left defenders in his trail before pulling back to Adebayor, the Togolese front man, 6 yards out managed to regain his balance and slot his shot home, just past the despairing dive of Friedel.
There was pandemonium in the stands, a fantastic fight back at the end of the first half ensured we were certainly in the driving seat when the second half arrived. We were greeted with a more patient build up in the second half, Villa now had to attack us and we could use our potent attacking force to pick them off. We had several fantastic chances but in Typical City fashion we were left anxious of a Villa goal.
We couldn`t punish the Villa mistakes and with Fulop looking rather shaky in the spotlight, we needed a third goal to ease our worries. Zabaleta was immense, he constantly stopped the Villa pressure and allowed us to force attacks of our own. His hard work allowed Bellamy to find space, coming in from the touchline he unleashed another fine shot, but again Friedel was there. The clock was ticking but a Villa goal would have certainly spoilt the party. Young attacked next for the visitors but his long cross was too much for the stretching Delfouneso.
Shaun Wright-Phillips also entered the fray and his first involvement brought great delight. The right winger picked up the on the half-way life, skipping past defenders, desperate lunge after desperate lunge, he rampaged forward with supporting blue shirts, he picked his head up and carved out a spectacular chance for Bellamy, his hard work had paid off as he arched a sumptuous shot into Friedel`s top corner.
The goal was met with unbelievable joy and sheer relief. It was needed and fully deserved. Fourth is again getting very close but can we remain calm for the Tottenham match? Bellamy put the icing on the cake and it could truly be a memorable performance and result.
Slightly unlucky with the goal but looked shaky early on. Settled a bit in the second half, but no Shay.
Truly Inspirational. Gutsy, determined and 100%.He never shirked a tackle, he battled and pressed and gave one of his best performances.
Agbonlahor was a passenger today, due to Tour’es pace and athleticism. Should have prevented the Carew goal but performed better after it.
Strong, great awareness and battled well. He reads the game very well and is a firm fan fave.
Played very well and better than his opposite number Warnock. He stopped many Villa attacks and the wide men were often kept quiet. Attacked well and frequently.
Another strong game. Read the game very well, some nice slick passing and tackled strongly in midfield.
Never stopped running. He didn’t give Milner an inch and deserves his praise.
Jinked his way past defenders and created the first two goals. Our best attacking player until he was removed.
Deserved his goal due to his hard work and commitment. Put their defence on the back foot and created constant pressure with his pace.
Slightly subdued and not at his full-flowing best. He still put in a good shift but possibly played too deep.
Provided an outlet upfront and was in the right place for his goal. Got into the game more as it progressed.
Provided a goal from a fantastic run and burst of pace. Always does well against Villa.
Didn’t have long to affect the game.