Man City Given Scare By Plucky Villa
…Villa fight back from 2-0 down, but lose to last-minute goal
…Aguero scores 27th goal of the season after Guzan error
…FA Cup finalists Villa two points above relegation zone
…City up to second, above Arsenal and Manchester United
Manchester City scored a dramatic late winner to defeat FA Cup finalists Aston Villa and move second in the Premier League.
Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan sliced a clearance to Sergio Aguero, who tapped into an open goal to put City ahead.
Aleksandar Kolarov’s curling 25-yard free-kick put the hosts 2-0 in front.
But a low strike from Tom Cleverley and Carlos Sanchez’s 15-yard volley made it 2-2, before City’s Fernandinho tapped in from close range in the 89th minute.
It was harsh on a Villa side who had looked to have earned a much-needed point in their fight to avoid relegation.
Villa boss Tim Sherwood will also be unhappy with a late decision when, with the score at 2-2, Christian Benteke was through on goal with only Joe Hart to beat, but the Belgium striker was denied by what appeared to be a harsh offside decision.
City scored the winning goal a minute later to move above Arsenal and rivals Manchester United, although the Gunners will regain second spot if they beat leaders Chelsea on Sunday.
Sherwood’s side are now 15th, only two points above the relegation zone, but have played a game more than the three teams directly below them – Hull, Leicester and Sunderland.
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea team, with a nine-point lead and having played two games fewer than City, are on course to win the title, but this was still a vital victory for Manuel Pellegrini’s team.
If they finish in the top three they will automatically qualify for next season’s Champions League, avoiding the two-legged play-off that awaits the side that finishes fourth.
The 2013-14 Premier League champions only needed three minutes to take the lead, which came after Guzan’s horrible error.
There appeared to be little danger from Ron Vlaar’s backpass but the American skewed his clearance and left Aguero with a simple task to score his 27th goal of the season.
The game looked over as a contest when Kolarov scored from a low free-kick in the 66th minute, but Villa netted two minutes later with Cleverley’s first goal since joining on loan from Manchester United.
Sanchez also scored his first goal in a Villa shirt with a well-controlled volley after Hart had palmed the ball into his path.
But there was to be another twist as Fernandinho collected a pass on his chest and finished to give City the vital win.