Manchester City 3-0 Aston Villa
Manchester City moved through the gears in the second half to beat Aston Villa 3-0 and keep the pressure on Liverpool.
Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan all scored in the second 45 minutes as Pep Guardiola’s team moved to within three points of the Premier League leaders.
City struggled to create many clear-cut openings in the first half although Sterling did set up Gabriel Jesus, who started instead of Sergio Aguero, only for the Brazilian’s shot to fly narrowly wide.
In the 19th minute, Sterling’s shot hit Bjorn Engels but appeals for a penalty were rejected by a VAR check which showed the Villa player’s arm was by his side.
John Stones, making his first start since mid-September, then made a bad mistake, gifting possession to Villa who had penalty appeals of their own rejected when Douglas Luiz tried in vain to latch on to the rebound after Ederson had made the save.
On the stroke of half-time, Sterling set up David Silva who was unable to guide the ball goalwards.
However, almost immediately after the restart, City took the lead when Ederson’s long ball forward was flicked on by Jesus to Sterling who fired his shot between Tom Heaton’s legs to register his 13th goal of the season
The goal lifted the home team and Tyrone Mings had to make a superb goal-line clearance to stop Jesus from making it 2-0 before De Bruyne did score City’s second goal of the afternoon in the 65th minute.
It appeared to be a cross by the Belgian, with the goal only being allowed to stand after a long VAR delay for a possible offside.
Gundogan rifled home the third goal five minutes later and although Fernandinho was sent off in the closing stages for a second bookable offence, City eased to a routine victory.