Aston Villa v City Man of the Match: Kolo Toure
City’s third clean sheet in a row laid the foundations for a satisfactory night’s work at Villa Park and the centre-back partnership of Kolo Toure and Matija Nastasic played a pivotal role in the win.
Kolo was selected as Sky Sports’ Man of the Match after he successfully shackled one of the Premier League’s most dangerous strikers in Christian Benteke.
Their bruising physical duel was a highlight of a feisty night under the floodlights as the champions kept their faint hopes of league glory alive.
Let’s examine some of the reaction to that defensive masterclass from our Ivorian international defender.
City TV: Spotlight
Aside from the Man of the Match champagne (which he will probably have passed onto a teammate), Kolo’s performance won all manner of plaudits from the media.
UK Europsport couldn’t separate Kolo and Nastasic as their pick of the bunch, awarding both 8/10 marks and the following words.
“They did threaten, with Bennett’s crossing particularly good and Benteke the usual aerial handful, but Nastasic and Kolo Toure were fantastic in central defence, leaving Hart with few touches of the ball and no saves of note,” wrote Reda Maher.
Goal.com agreed that Kolo’s showing was a huge contributing factor in the win, awarding him with a 3 and a half stars – second only to Carlos Tevez.
“Solid display at the back. Troubled by the physicality of Benteke early on but grew into the battle. Quick across the ground and good in the tackle,” read their review.
In Kolo's words
"[Benteke] is a great young striker and I knew it was going to be a big battle. I think all the team was defending well," Toure said.
"We attacked together and that's the kind of spirit we need to have if we want to be one of the best clubs in the Premier League.
"I'm doing my best. I love football. Every time I have the chance to play I will give 100 per cent, that's what I want to do every game."
While stats don't tell the whole story, they can shed an interesting light on a player's contribution - check out these chin-stroking tidbits courtesy of must-follow Twitter account, OptaCity.
The Interceptor: Kolo made four interceptions v Aston Villa, more than any other City player.
Shut-outs: It was the 30th Premier League clean sheet City have kept in games Kolo has been involved in.
Clearing Lines: Kolo made seven clearances which was second only to Matija Nastasic (nine).
Winning Mentality: City have lost only two of the last 17 Premier League games that Kolo has started.
Join us for the next Spotlight feature after Saturday’s FA Cup quarter final against Barnsley.