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12 games of Christmas #8: City 3-1 Villa 2002

MARC VIVIEN FOE: City's Cameroonian midfielder scored an excellent brace against Aston Villa in 2002

MARC VIVIEN FOE: City's Cameroonian midfielder scored an excellent brace against Aston Villa in 2002

In the eighth of a festive series, we look back at Manchester City's last Boxing Day fixture at Maine Road...

Where and when...

Premier League

City 3-1 Aston Villa

Maine Road, 26 December 2002

City: Schmeichel, Dunne, Howey, Distin, Wright-Phillips (Benarbia 64), Berkovic, Foe, Horlock, Tiatto (Jensen 46), Anelka, Goater (Huckerby 72).

Report...

Late goals from Ali Benarbia and Marc-Vivien Foe wrapped all three points for Manchester City at Maine Road as Aston Villa's woeful away form continued.

Foe's 80th-minute strike - his second of the game and fifth goal in four matches - put the seal on a hard-earned victory after a good display from Kevin Keegan's men.

The Cameroon international put City into the lead after 15 minutes, but his team did not take full advantage of their early dominance and allowed Dion Dublin to equalise in the 40th minute.

The game looked to be heading for a draw until the late interventions from Benarbia and Foe left Villa still searching for their first away win of the Premiership season.

What it meant...

Manchester City had enjoyed a solid start to their first season back in the top flight, with this win taking them to 11th place and 27 points from 20 matches in their last year at Maine Road.

Defeat left struggling Villa in 16th place, where they would finish the campaign almost six months later.

Highlights

Reaction...

Kevin Keegan: “Before Benarbia went on I asked him to give me a bit of magic. He will definitely start at Fulham on Saturday. I'm not telling you the rest of the team but after that he's got to play.

“He can play in the Premiership but I think he had to prove it to himself. He had a very long lay-off this summer and when he came back he never got back to the same level of influence in training and games."

Media reaction...

Ian Whittell (The Guardian): "Ali Benarbia, the Algerian midfielder who found his way to Manchester City via France and a ludicrous slice of good fortune, transformed the outcome of a match his side were doing their utmost to lose and maintained his cult status at Maine Road.

"City, beaten at home 3-2 by Tottenham on Monday, looked likely to repeat history after squandering an early lead but, with the game finely poised, Benarbia's arrival as a 64th-minute substitute for Shaun Wright-Phillips was decisive."

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