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Leandro Bacuna and Andreas Weimann left Manchester City stunned as Aston Villa twice came from behind to record a remarkable 3-2 victory in the Barclays Premier League.
Fresh from netting nine goals in a week against Manchester United and Wigan Athletic, City were in dominant mood in the first half at Villa Park but had to wait for Yaya Toure's sixth strike in eight games to put them ahead in its final minute. Having failed to muster a shot on target before the break, Karim El Ahmadi produced a clinical finish to haul Villa level in the 51st minute. Edin Dzeko glanced in from Samir Nasri's corner to restore City's advantage five minutes later but Bacuna lashed home a stunning free-kick for his first Villa goal after Matija Nastasic fouled Weimann. Nastasic and Vincent Kompany were caught napping as Weimann stole in to beat the on-rushing Joe Hart with a 75th-minute winner.
In the absence of injured Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor, Villa manager Paul Lambert handed a first start to last weekend’s match-winner at Norwich City, Libor Kozak, and reverted to a 5-3-2 formation. Sergio Aguero picked up a knock after firing a derby day brace last weekend, meaning Dzeko partnered Alvaro Negredo in attack. Elsewhere, Jesus Navas dropped to the bench to accommodate Villa old boy James Milner in the City midfield.
It was Milner who had the game's first opening in the third minute, lashing wide with his left foot after Dzeko dummied a low cross from Aleksandar Kolarov. Continuing the form he showcased six days ago, Samir Nasri was at the hub of an impressive start by the visitors. First, a cute through-ball allowed Dzeko to slide in on the angle and draw a save from Brad Guzan before the France midfielder fired narrowly wide from the edge of the box having led a swift counter-attack.
Dzeko failed to get on top of a good headed chance from a 14th-minute corner and City proceeded to dominate the opening half-hour without again testing Guzan. City's pressure continued largely unchecked but they were consistently undermined by their failure to find a quality final ball until the half’s outstanding player intervened at its conclusion. After watching Ciaran Clark clear off the line and Nathan Baker deflect his fierce drive wide, Toure crowned a typically dominant display from midfield by steering Nasri’s corner through Guzan’s legs.
Negredo and Kolarov threatened as City began the second period at a furious place but Manuel Pellegrini's team would soon rue their profligacy. El Ahmadi collected Bacuna's wonderfully weighted pass to fire home low across Hart. But as they did from their ninth corner, City netted from their 10th to ensure parity lasted only six minutes.
Dzeko made the most of a static Villa defence to glance Nasri's inswinging delivery past Guzan and the USA goalkeeper got down well moments later to keep out a thunderous Negredo volley. Ring-wing crosses from Zabaleta and Navas, introduced in place of Nasri, invited further punishment that did not arrive from Dzeko but just as Villa looked to be entering survival mode they stunned City again.
Villa Park was in raptures following Bacuna's heroics and the noise levels were further ramped up as Weimann lifted Villa up to ninth in the table – only a point behind City in fifth.
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "We were outstanding. The injury list has been pretty horrendous. We've lost lost two lads [Benteke and Agbonlahor] who have scored a lot of goals for us. We have lost [Ashley] Westwood who has been fantastic for me for us and [Jores] Okore was starting to find his feet so there was a lot going on in the game and we are up against one of the best teams in the country so that's the magnitude of the result.
"They would change it a bit with the game in midweek against Bayern Munich but it just shows how strong they are, but we were outstanding."
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: “Today we did all we could to win the game, we played well and then in five minutes, we lost it. It’s incredible the way we lost this game. It’s hard to take, we played very well today, nothing like the way we played against Cardiff or Stoke, we played well and deserved another score but there’s a lot of reasons why it happened.
“It’s very difficult to explain football, as you said we controlled the ball, we had the advantage twice. The second [Villa] goal was a beautiful free-kick, the third goal was incredible. In five minutes we did two things which threw away the match. We must concentrate for 90 minutes. We were winning, then Villa had one shot on our goal and they scored. Football has these things. Maybe today we deserved more but football is like this.
“I hope that some day we will win away because this is the third game we’ve played and we haven’t won any.”
|01 Jan 2014||v Sunderland (A)|
|20 Oct 2013||v Spurs (H)|
|23 Feb 2014||v Newcastle (A)|
|28 Dec 2013||v Swansea (H)|
|09 Nov 2013||v Cardiff (H)|
|15 Dec 2013||v Man Utd (H)|