Stunning first half goals from Ruben Dias and Bernardo were enough to earn depleted City a crucial 2-1 Premier League win at Aston Villa.

Despite being shorn of several key players through injury, illness and suspension, Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions produced a sumptuous opening 45 minutes at Villa Park capped off by quite superb goals from Portuguese duo Dias and Silva.

A 47th minute effort from Villa’s Ollie Watkins made for a hard-fought second half.

However, City held firm to deservedly seal our 10th league win of the season and so stay hot on the heels of leaders Chelsea.

It was also Pep Guardiola‘s 150th Premier League win.

The City boss is only the fourth manager to achieve the feat and he achieved it in 204 games - quicker time that Sir Alex Ferguson who hit 150 wins in 247 games.

What happened

Though our squad options were depleted by injury and suspension with Ilkay Gundogan, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Kevin De Bruyne and Aymeric Laporte all ruled out, it was an assertive and confident City who were straight onto the front foot in dominant and impressive fashion.

Less than a minute in, Joao Cancelo - restored to right back duties - warmed the hands of Emiliano Martinez with a stinging drive from an acute angle after a neat lay-off by Riyad Mahrez.

Gabriel Jesus then produced a dazzling piece of footwork in the box before Rodrigo forced Martinez into sharp save with a 15-yard snapshot.

STRIKE ONE; Ruben Dias fires City ahead
STRIKE ONE; Ruben Dias fires City ahead

However, Zinchenko had to be alert to smartly block a 10th minute Leon Bailey drive as Villa laucnhd their first forward foray.

Gabriel Jesus then went down under a challenge from Matty Cash in the Villa box but referee Mike Dean was unmoved and waved away City’s penalty appeals.

Zinchenko then tried his luck from 25 yards out after a quite dazzling 70 yard through ball from Ederson to Rahem Sterling which switched defence to attack in an instant but Martinez was again equal to the task.

All that was missing was a goal and it arrived in stunning fashion on 27 minutes from Ruben Dias.

Sterling was the architect, his delayed left wing bamboozling John McGinn as he reached the byline before despatching a perfect pass to Dias.

Twenty-five yards out, our Portuguese centre half showed superb vision and technique, unleashing a dazzling, swerving first time shot with his left foot that whistled past Martinez into the corner of the net.

PORT OF PLENTY: Bernardo Silva and Portuguese colleague Ruben Dias celebrate City's opener
PORT OF PLENTY: Bernardo Silva and Portuguese colleague Ruben Dias celebrate City's opener

It was a wonder goal but no less than Guardiola’s side merited after a breath-taking opening half hour with City’s artistry and vision married by ferocious application and desire.

Villa Park was bearing witness to trademark City - clinical and classy – and two minutes before the break we doubled our lead in quite devastating fashion through Bernardo Silva.

It all stemmed from a rare Villa attack but a superb long-range Fernandinho pass found Gabriel Jesus wide on the right flank.

The Brazilian dinked over an inviting ball into the heart of the box and Bernardo executed a breathtaking left volley into the roof of the net that stunned the Holte End and sent the travelling City fans into rapture.

But such is the capricious nature of football, Villa halved the deficit two minutes after the restart.

Though Oleks Zinchenko went down under a strong challenge from Ashley Young, Villa were awarded a corner.

STUNNER: Bernardo Silva doubles City's lead
STUNNER: Bernardo Silva doubles City's lead

And from Douglas Luiz’s set-piece, Ollie Watkins swept home a sweet volley off the post to suddenly change the complexion of the game.

It was a bolt out of the blue and fired up the home fans but City sought to switftly reassert control though Zinchenko slightly overcooked a 20 yard effort following more fine work from Sterling.

More beautiful work from Bernardo bamboozled the Villa defence and forced a desperate clearance from Nakamba before a deft Jesus volley dipped just wide.

Villa then had an appeal for a penalty of their own rejected by VAR after Ezri Konsa went down under a challenge from Nathan Ake as a dangerous Watkins header flashed into the heart of the City box.

More Bernardo brilliance almost set up a crucial City third goal. An inviting right-wing cross found the waiting Jesus and though the Brazilian smartly swivelled eight yards out, his shot came to nought.

Ederson then produced a moment of magic to keep City ahead on 75 minutes.

The Brazilian keeper once again demonstrated his worth, smartly saving a goalbound effort from Villa sub Chukwuemeka who was through on goal from McGinn’s cute assist.

It was tough, testing finale but City demonstrated we have steel allayed to our silk to run the clock down and seal another precious three points.

THE BOSS: Pep Guardiola urges City on
THE BOSS: Pep Guardiola urges City on


ASTON VILLA: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings (c), Targett (Chukwuemeka 67), McGinn, Nakamba (Sanson 78), Douglas Luiz, Buendia, Watkins, Bailey (A Young 30)
Subs: Steer, Hause, Tuanzebe, J Ramsey, El Ghazi, Davis

CITY: Ederson, Cancelo, Dias, Ake, Zinchenko, Fernandinho (c), Rodri, Bernardo, Sterling, Jesus (Grealish 87), Mahrez
Subs: Steffen, Carson, Mbete, Foden, Palmer, McAtee, Lavia, Wilson-Esbrand

Razzle dazzle

On a night filled with fine performances, Raheem Sterling served up an excellent all-round display.

A constant threat going forward on the left flank, the England international was also not afraid to do the hard yards in defence to help City when Villa threatened.

LEADING MAN: Skipper Fernandinho makes crucial block
LEADING MAN: Skipper Fernandinho makes crucial block

Wednesday wonders

There is something about Wednesday nights that seems to bring the very best out of City!

Incredibly, this was our 16th consecutive Wednesday night win in the Premier League – a remarkable run that stretches all the way back to Boxing Day 2018.

Given Villa’s form going into the game and our depleted squad, this was right up there with the very best of those midweek specials!

Pep’s verdict

“The game we played was fantastic. It was a difficult game. We knew it. I understand why.

“Especially after conceding early in the second half, the way we reacted... we played really well.”

Bernardo scored a fantastic goal. When a player has this quality it depends on them. He is a player on another level. Ruben has good personalities. He scored a really good goal.”

Pep on 150 Premier League wins

“I’m quite proud yeah. It means we have won some games! I didn’t know, they have told me in the flash interview.

“It’s a lot in the Premier League and we did it in a short time and it means what we have these years is all together.

“A big compliment for the whole club, the chairman and there is more to come”

What it means

With Chelsea and Liverpool also winning, it’s as you were at the top of the table.

Chelsea are top with 32 points from 14 games, City are second on 31 with Liverpool in third on 31.

It looks like being a pulsating title race!

THAT WINNING FEELING: Gab J and Bernardo can't contain their joy
THAT WINNING FEELING: Gab J and Bernardo can't contain their joy

What’s next

City are on the road again this weekend when we continue our Premier League title push away to Watford on Saturday, December 4.

Kick-off at Vicarage Road is at 5.30pm and, as always, we’ll have extensive build, live coverage and post-match analysis on our official App and website.

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