1-1 Carew 14
0-1 Bianchi 11
- Match reports
- Sat 22 Dec 2007, 12:00AM
- Posted by Leon Collins
Pre Match news:
Sven-Goran Eriksson makes three changes from the side that lost 2-0 to Tottenham on Tuesday and the boss has reshuffled his defensive pack. In comes Nedum Onuoha for his 50th Premier League appearance to replace Vedran Corluka.
Michael Ball returns at left back in place of Javi Garrido and the final change sees Gelson Fernandes start due to Michael Johnson's abdominal pain.
City mustered the first opening after just 25 seconds. Vassell , complete with customary boos on another return to Villa Park, scampered down the right and found Elano – but an awkward left-footed shot bounced wide.
The Blues continued their positive start and in the fifth minute, after being fouled, Elano whipped the resulting free kick goalwards to bring a save out of Carson and force the game’s first corner.
And City’s early dominance was rewarded after 11 minutes as they took the lead. Michael Ball won an easy tackle in the Blues’ half and gave the ball to Hamann who nonchalantly flicked it to Elano in acres of space. By that time Petrov was flying down the wing, the Brazilian found him, and he put in a great low ball for Rolando Bianchi to slide home.
The lead didn’t last long though as John Carew powered his way beyond Richard Dunne to equalise just three minutes later. The big Norwegian turned well 30-yards out and drove into the box as he held off the City skipper. Carew had a touch of fortune with his finish as it appeared to flick off Micah Richards on the way in.
Villa had come right back into the game and three times from corners the home side threatened to take the lead before we’d reached the 25 minute mark. Twice Laursen had dangerous headers and the third time Agbonlahor’s scuffed effort needed Elano to clear the ball off the goal line.
The hosts went close again on 31 minutes only to be denied by a fantastic save from Joe Hart. It was that man again, Carew, who despite looking offside was allowed to continue and power a shot that Hart acrobatically tipped onto the outside of the post.
Referee Mason showed the first yellow card of the game to Didi Hamann on 38 minutes as the lively Agbonlahor threatened to break into the Blues’ half the German brought a swift end to his progress.
Villa definitely ended the half as the team most likely to add a two next to their name, particularly with Carew having the kind of game he was, as it stands Sven’s men are still in this one.
HALF TIME: Villa 1-1 City
City started the second half the same way they had the first with an early chance. Petrov stretched his legs down the left before crossing for Vassell who headed over.
Ten minutes into the second half two bookings got the crowd going again. Gareth Barry for dissent was quickly followed by Fernandes for a challenge on Agbonlahor.
Two more City bookings and a substitution were the only other noteworthy points as 20 mintues remained. Ball and Vassell the bookings with Vedran Corluka introduced in place of Didi Hamann.
Elano's last action of the afternoon was a free kick that only troubled the fans behind the goal. He was replaced by Javi Garrido on 76 minutes.
The game in the second half had certainly proved to be a tight affair between two teams fighting it out to be the best of the rest behind 'the big four.'
Then came the chances. Substitutes Corluka and Garrido combined well after 82 minutes to carve out a rare City opportunity. Unfortunately Petrov couldn’t make the most of Garrido’s cross at the far post as he volleyed wide when well placed.
Moments later City had Michael Ball to thank after Reo-Coker robbed Fernandes and led a two onto one chase but someone Ball prevented the former West Ham man twice from squaring for Carew.
Sven's final throw of the dice saw Kelvin Etuhu come on for Bianchi as he hoped to nick a late winner...it didn't happen and it was to be a hard-earnt point for the Blues on the final whistle.
FULL TIME: Villa 1-1 City
mcfc.co.uk's Man of the Match: Micah Richards. Fine second half marshalling of the powerful Carew, who at times in the first half was unplayable.