London - Carlos Tevez kept Manchester City's slim hopes of retaining the Premier
League title alive as he earned Manchester City a 1-0 victory which left
Aston Villa still rooted in the relegation zone on Monday.
Tevez punished Ciaran Clark's calamitous mistake in first-half added
time at Villa Park to enable second-placed City to move within 12 points
of runaway leaders Manchester United.
VIDEO: Aston Villa v Manchester City highlights
It was far from a vintage performance from Roberto Mancini's team, but
the victory at least preserved their faint hopes of catching bitter
Mancini conceded it would be hard to catch United, but he insisted his
team would keep pushing Alex Ferguson's men right until the end of the
"We know it will be difficult but we will keep on trying. It was
important to stay 12 points behind United and for us the championship is
not over," Mancini said. "We have to keep on winning and see. This is
football, nothing is impossible.
"We are playing well. We had good chances and Aston Villa are a good
team. It is strange that they are down there and for that reason I am
happy with my team."
Villa, meanwhile, remain in 18th and were once again left to rue a
costly lapse of concentration from one of their players at a key moment.
Their forthcoming matches against fellow strugglers Reading and QPR now
take on even further importance as Paul Lambert's team try to beat the
"I have always had the belief that we will stay up. If we keep playing
like that we will win more than not," Lambert said. "I cannot fault the
lads. We have been playing very well without getting the rewards we
"We were in the game for long periods and everyone is disappointed to
lose. We had one or two little half chances, but we were against a good
side. We came away with our heads held high."
Villa created their best chance of the first half after 21 minutes when
it required a Tevez clearance off the line to keep out Christian
Benteke's header from Charles N'Zogbia's corner.
It was a narrow escape for the visitors and they responded almost
immediately by registering their first genuine attempt of the game when
Jack Rodwell's vicious shot had to be palmed over his crossbar by Brad
It was to be Rodwell's final meaningful contribution after he limped off shortly afterwards to be replaced by Edin Dzeko.
City threatened in the 32nd minute when a free-kick from James Milner,
up against the club he left to join City, evaded the wall, however Guzan
was equal to it.
Villa had a fortuitous escape eight minutes before the interval when
Yaya Toure and David Silva combined for feeding the onrushing Pablo
Zabaleta, yet the captain's arcing shot ricocheted against the inside of
the left post before being hooked to safety.
Guzan had to be at his best to thwart the dangerous Tevez, clawing away a curler which looked destined for the top-right corner.
As the clock ticked down in added time, Villa appeared to have survived the onslaught, but then came Clark's moment to forget.
The defender, Villa's last man, received a throw-in but loitered in
possession. With Dzeko now upon him, he elected for a drag-back in a
desperate attempt to get himself out of trouble only to slip.
Dzeko charged through before squaring to Tevez who, in typically
clinical fashion, sold Guzan with a dummy before slotting past the
beleaguered Clark, by now desperately attempting to make amends on the
It was ruthless finishing and, although harsh on Villa, they only had
themselves to blame - Clark's furious protests for a foul by Dzeko were
City picked up where they left off in the second half and Dzeko almost
increased their lead with a half volley which bounced agonisingly beyond
the left post.
Matthew Lowton denied City a certain second in the 55th minute with a
clearance off the line to deny Tevez after another weaving run from the
At 1-0, Villa always stood a chance and they continued to battle
manfully with a Gabriel Agbonlahor header and crisp Lowton drive both
Yet as they pressed forward for an equaliser, the openings increased for
City at the opposite end and Guzan excelled once more with a fingertip
stop to push Yaya Toure's low shot against the post before Dzeko's
follow-up was ruled out for an offside.
Villa's frustration was compounded in the final moments when Fabian
Delph picked up his 10th booking of the season, meaning he will miss
their next two matches.