Premier League: Aston Villa 0 Manchester City 1
By Football News
Manchester City cut the gap to leaders Manchester United back to 12 points after grinding out a 1-0 win at Aston Villa on Monday.
A slip in defence from Ciaran Clark led to Carlos Tevez's opener in first-half stoppage time, with Villa failing to muster an equaliser despite several thrusts forward in the second half.
The result means Paul Lambert's side remain in the bottom three, having only picked up one victory in their last 11 league matches.
Villa started brightly, causing panic inside the City area when Javi Garcia sliced a clearance from Joe Bennett's cross.
The hosts' early superiority nearly paid off on 20 minutes when Christian Benteke met Charles N'Zogbia's corner with a powerful header which looked destined for goal but for Tevez's clearance off the line.
After Edin Dzeko replaced the injured Jack Rodwell, however, Mancini's side started to enjoy more possession, and Pablo Zabaleta nearly put the visitors in front, latching on to Tevez's through pass and hammering a superb shot across goal which Brad Guzan managed to flick on to the post.
Guzan was called into action again shortly after, parrying away a 20-yard curling effort from Tevez before diverting Dzeko's low effort from the right-hand side of the area.
City's late first-half dominance finally paid off in stoppage time when Clark was caught in possession by Dzeko, who squared to Tevez for the breakthrough.
Both sides came out with attacking intent after the break, but it was City who nearly doubled their lead as Dzeko fired a volleyed effort from the edge of the box which deflected off Nathan Baker and wide of Guzan's post.
Tevez then spurned a fine opportunity, electing to shoot with David Silva free in the area, only for his shot to be cleared away by Clark with Guzan beaten.
With City pressing, Villa were able to occasionally find space in behind, and on the hour mark Andreas Weimann fed Gabriel Agbonlahor but Kolo Toure managed to scramble the ball to safety.
City were denied a second when Yaya Toure's low effort from 20 yards was tipped on to the post by Guzan, but it came to Dzeko who fired the ball into an empty net only for the flag to go up for offside.
Benteke was denied a penalty late on, when it looked like Matija Nastasic brought down the defender with a clumsy challenge.
Villa pressed for an equaliser late on but City secured the win despite an understated performance.