Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are ready to challenge the title after a stunning Bernardo Silva goal helped beat Aston Villa and inflicted Steven Gerrard to their first Premier League defeat as a manager.
It was Guardiola’s side’s fourth consecutive league win, a win that keeps them second in the table and one point behind leaders Chelsea in what is shaping up to be a three-way title race that includes Liverpool.
Silva showed world class style with Gabriel Jesus’ shot into the roof of the net from just inside the area, after City opened their hosts with a quick break.
That superb strike doubled the visitors’ advantage before the break, and Robin Dias was the unlikely source of the hole as he rebounded to the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Villa renewed their determination since Gerrard’s arrival, and Ole Watkins responded right after the first half with a superb shot from a good corner routine.
But the hosts could not find an equalizer, and Gerrard, having won his first two matches, squandered points for the first time at the Villa stadium.
Jack Grealish, brought in as a late substitute to make his first return to Villa Park since a £100m summer move, was greeted with a mixture of boos and applause from the home crowd he once adored.
“Do we have another alternative?” Guardiola said when asked if City were ready to fight for the title. So we will face the challenge.”
The looted city shows its quality
City coach Guardiola said ahead of his team’s trip to Villa Park that they face an “emergency” for the player, but there is still an abundance of talent available for the Spaniard.
At the top of the list is now Silva, the glamorous Portuguese playmaker who has created an amazing piece of art that looks so simple.
Dias’ opener was a reward for City’s early dominance and Guardiola could not help but smile when Silva carelessly fired a shot a second before the break.
The young midfielder had time to drop Jesus’ delivery, but instead flirted with him the first time he got past Emiliano Martinez to finish a lightning counterattack that had started in City’s penalty area seconds before.
The home side’s early style was to absorb City’s pressure and hit them at the break, but Leon Bailey’s loss to a muscle injury half an hour later affected that plan.
Villa have lost all six of the previous six games they had been late in in the Premier League this season, but whatever Gerrard’s play-off message was, they worked out almost immediately.
They took the match to the champs, with Watkins guiding into Douglas Luiz’s corner within two minutes of the break, much to Prince William’s delight.
This sparked the excitement of Villa Park loyalists and 18-year-old Karni Chukwuemeka came close to a settlement, but was rejected by City goalkeeper Ederson.
Villa rolled out the blue carpet and blue carpet for returning champion Grealish previously, with Gerrard saying he would be welcomed back and tweeting “Thank you for the memories”.
He had to settle for a while, having not played since November 3 for City, but the England international’s return will help ease Guardiola’s injury fears.
“People can say what they want,” Guardiola said of the reception given to Grealish. “If they booed, it’s because they like him so much. I thought a lot of people were clapping.”
“A warm welcome back to this club. He loves this club more than any other. He decided to take the next step to play in Europe.”
The victory also brought Guardiola’s 150th Premier League win with Manchester City, and he has reached that number in 204 games – faster than any other coach in the competition.
- 3targethas been replaced byChukwuemekain a 67′Minutes
- 19nakambahas been replaced bySansonin a 77 ‘Minutes
- 6Douglas Louise
- 31Billyhas been replaced bysmallin a 31 ‘Minutes
- 10Good day
- 41J. Ramsay
- 3Robin Dias
- 6what or what
- 20Bernardo Silva
- 7Sterling pound
- 9Gabriel Jesushas been replaced byGrealishin a 87 ‘Minutes
- 97wilson esbrand
- Mike Dean
Match ends, Aston Villa 1, Manchester City 2.
The second half ended, Aston Villa 1, Manchester City 2.
Foul by Rodri (Manchester City).
John McGinn (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt saved. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) kicks his left foot from outside the penalty area and saves it in the middle of the goal.
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Morgan Sanson (Aston Villa).
Substitution, Manchester City. Jack Grealish replaces Gabriel Jesus.
wasted attempt. Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) fouled a header from the left side of the penalty area to the left. Assisted by Douglas Luiz after setting the set pieces.
Foul by Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).
John McGinn (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
wasted attempt. Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) fouled a header from the left side of the penalty area to the left. Assisted by John McGinn after a fixed position.
Foul by Fernandinho (Manchester City).
Morgan Sanson (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Handball from Rodri (Manchester City).
Substitution, Aston Villa. Morgan Sanson replaces Marvelous Nakamba.
Ederson (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa).
Corner, Aston Villa. against Ederson.
Attempt saved. Karne Chukwimica (Aston Villa) saved with a left-footed shot from the center of the penalty area in the lower left corner. Emiliano Buendia assisted him with a through pass.
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