Man City beat Villa to move closer to title

Phil Foden
Only Kevin De Bruyne (24) has been directly involved in more goals in all competitions for Manchester City this season than Phil Foden (23 – 14 goals, nine assists)

Manchester City moved closer to becoming Premier League champions after they beat Aston Villa in a match where both sides ended with 10 men.

City, playing for the first time since they signed up to the European Super League and then withdrew from the competition, had centre-half John Stones sent off just before the break for a knee-high challenge on Jacob Ramsey.

However, Villa wasted the man advantage when Matty Cash was dismissed 11 minutes into the second half following two bookings in the space of three minutes.

Villa went ahead after only 20 seconds as John McGinn guided a shot past Ederson following Ollie Watkins’ low cross.

The impressive Phil Foden finished off a fine City team move to equalise before Rodri headed the visitors in front following Bernardo Silva’s cross.

City led 2-1 when they went down to 10 men, but Villa could not capitalise on the extra player and then offered little threat when it was 10-a-side.

Pep Guardiola’s team are 11 points clear of Manchester United and need eight points from their final five matches to become English champions for the third time in four seasons.

Stones will be suspended for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Tottenham at Wembley as City, who are also in the Champions League semi-finals, aim to pick up the first of a potential three trophies this season.

A bad day for Stones, but his red does not cost City

Stones has been in fine form this season, making more Premier League appearances than he managed in 2019-20, with his performances earning an England recall after 16 months out of the national side.

However, with Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate in the stands, it was an evening to forget for the 26-year-old.

He was caught out in the first few seconds of the match when he failed to collect a long ball from England team-mate Tyrone Mings, enabling Watkins to set up McGinn for the joint quickest Premier League goal of the season.

Stones was then shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Ramsey near the halfway line and in front of the two dugouts.

After a check by the video assistant referee Jarred Gillett, on-field referee Peter Banks watched the incident on a pitchside monitor and showed the red card to Stones, although Guardiola was unhappy with the decision and remonstrated with the officials.

With a man advantage, Villa’s Douglas Luiz curled a 25-yard effort straight at Ederson but the match swung back in City’s favour following two Cash challenges on Foden, the second of which was a sliding challenge that wiped out the England midfielder close to the touchline.

From then on City were able to dominate possession and now only need three more league wins to become English champions for the seventh time in their history.

A bad day for Stones, but his red does not cost City

Stones has been in fine form this season, making more Premier League appearances than he managed in 2019-20, with his performances earning an England recall after 16 months out of the national side.

However, with Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate in the stands, it was an evening to forget for the 26-year-old.

He was caught out in the first few seconds of the match when he failed to collect a long ball from England team-mate Tyrone Mings and that enabled Ollie Watkins to set up McGinn, for the joint quickest Premier League goal of the season.

But Stones was then shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Ramsey near the halfway line and in front of the two dugouts.

After a check by the video assistant referee Jarred Gillett, on-field referee Peter Banks watched the incident on a pitchside monitor and showed the red card to Stones.

With a man advantage, Douglas Luiz had a 25-yard curled effort straight at Ederson but the match swung back in City’s favour following two Cash challenges on Foden, the second of which was a sliding challenge that wiped out the England midfielder close to the touchline.

From then on City were able to dominate possession and now only need three more league wins to become English champions for the seventh time in their history.

Foden shines as football returns to normal

The build-up to the match at Villa Park had been dominated by talk of the European Super League.

City were one of six English teams – along with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham – to join three sides from Spain and three from Italy in the proposed new closed competition, which would have featured no promotion or relegation.

However, Sunday’s announcement, brought widespread criticism and anger from fans, managers, other clubs and politicians, with Guardiola himself saying football “is not a sport if success is guaranteed or if it doesn’t matter when you lose”.

City were one of the first to announce their withdrawal from the ESL on Tuesday evening and there was no repeat of the protests that had seen angry fans demonstrating before Liverpool’s match at Leeds on Monday, Chelsea’s home game versus Brighton on Tuesday and Tottenham’s encounter with Southampton earlier on Wednesday.

This was a game that again highlighted the exciting and thrilling nature of the Premier League and City’s play after going a goal behind was a joy to watch.

Their equaliser started with goalkeeper Ederson knocking a fine 50-yard ball to the left wing where Olexandr Zinchenko played it to the superb Foden. The 20-year-old drilled a low pass to Riyad Mahrez and the Algerian released the overlapping Silva on the right flank and his pull-back was steered into the net by Foden.

The second goal was another well-worked one as Rodri powerfully headed in from another Silva assist.

Not only have City scored the most goals in the Premier League, they also have the best defensive record and successfully managed to stifle Villa in the second half to take a big step towards another title.

What’s next?

City play Tottenham at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday (16:30 BST), before Villa take on West Brom in a Premier League match later that day (19:00).

More to follow.

Player of the match

FodenPhil Foden

Aston Villa

  1. Squad number7Player nameMcGinn

  2. Squad number26Player nameMartínez

  3. Squad number11Player nameWatkins

  4. Squad number18Player nameTargett

  5. Squad number4Player nameKonsa

  6. Squad number5Player nameMings

  7. Squad number41Player nameRamsey

  8. Squad number6Player nameDouglas Luiz

  9. Squad number19Player nameNakamba

  10. Squad number15Player nameTraoré

  11. Squad number39Player nameDavis

  12. Squad number2Player nameCash

  13. Squad number20Player nameBarkley

  14. Squad number21Player nameEl Ghazi

Line-ups

Aston Villa

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 26Martínez
  • 2CashBooked at 57mins
  • 4Konsa
  • 5Mings
  • 18Targett
  • 19NakambaSubstituted forBarkleyat 63′minutes
  • 15TraoréSubstituted forEl Ghaziat 75′minutes
  • 7McGinn
  • 6Douglas Luiz
  • 41RamseySubstituted forDavisat 45′minutes
  • 11Watkins

Substitutes

  • 1Heaton
  • 3Taylor
  • 20Barkley
  • 21El Ghazi
  • 22Engels
  • 27El Mohamady
  • 30Hause
  • 39Davis
  • 60Chukwuemeka

Man City

Formation 4-3-3

  • 31Ederson
  • 2Walker
  • 5StonesBooked at 44mins
  • 3Rúben Dias
  • 11Zinchenko
  • 20Bernardo Silva
  • 16Rodri
  • 8GündoganBooked at 44mins
  • 26MahrezSubstituted forFernandinhoat 90′minutes
  • 9Gabriel JesusSubstituted forLaporteat 45′minutes
  • 47Foden

Substitutes

  • 6Aké
  • 7Sterling
  • 13Steffen
  • 14Laporte
  • 21Torres
  • 22Mendy
  • 25Fernandinho
  • 27Cancelo
  • 50García

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