Bent's Debut Strike Hampers Title Ambitions
If Gerard Houllier and Darren Bent wanted to write todays script themselves then this is exactly how they would have written it.
After his controversial £24 million move to Villa, Bent scored on his debut for the 3rd time in his career to give struggling Villa a vital victory and compound misery on City who might look back and believe this is the weekend where out title ambitions were prevented.
Bent has stated this week that Villa`s ambitions and stature are the reasons for joining them despite the dismay and disappointment from his former boss Steve Bruce. His big-money move has heaped pressure on the proven goal scorer, but when he managed to pounce on Ashley Young`s parried shot his new career certainly began in style.
Despite Bent`s debut strike, Villa`s defence provided inspiration and delight throughout leaving Roberto Mancini wondering how we didn`t take anything back to Eastlands.
City`s previous 4-0 victory between the sides was only last month so for boss Mancini he would have hoped for more of the same.
Providing the entertainment on that occasion was Mario Balotelli with his first City hat-trick, but his injury problems which have hampered the start of his blues career continue to halt his progress.
Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and David Silva, were the front trio who were out to cause problems this time, however, resilience and sturdiness- not something Villa have been used to in recent months- provided a catalyst for a great victory.
Aleskander Kolarov`s start to his City career has been met with an indifferent reaction, but after his strike against Leicester the rampant full-back began the game brightly.
Trying to influence the encounter, Kolarov looked City`s biggest threat creating several chances from his dangerous corners. When captain Tevez was left unmarked five yards out, the Serbian was unfortunate not to have an assist with the ball evading the striker.
With the early pressure thwarted by a desperate Villa side they took a surprise lead. The unlikely goal came from likely source Bent though, who latched onto a poor save from Hart and struck home from close range.
Despite the settling goal for Villa, City were creating more opportunities and ex- Villain Gareth Barry nearly responded immediately as he saw his glanced header narrowly miss.
With title-rivals Manchester United and Arsenal winning earlier in the day, the pressure was firmly on us as we searched for the much-needed equaliser.
The intricate passing and constant possession wasn`t enough for us, with the scoring opportunities few and far between.
A late onslaught was predicted, but with ex-City stalwart Richard Dunne and his defensive colleagues showing how excellent they can be, the goal wasn`t forthcoming.
Tevez, Dzeko and Jerome Boateng all had chances for the away side, but, a combination of misfortune and stability from Villa frustrated the team.
Midfield destroyer Nigel De-Jong was the next City player to cause problems with his long range strike somehow striking the post courtesy of a bizarre block from Ciaran Clarke.
The pressure and chances weren`t enough to defeat Villa and continue our sensational form at the peak of the league as City leave wondering, was this the day it slipped away?