Manchester City took full advantage of neighbours United’s lunchtime draw at Liverpool to go top of the Premier League after inflicting a first defeat of the season on Aston Villa winning 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
Roberto Mancini’s side were irresistible against the visitors with Martio Balotelli’s first half strike being followed up by goals from Adam Johnson, Vincent Kompany and former Villa favourite James Milner. Stephen Warnock did pull a goal back for Alex McLeish’s men who were powerless to resist City’s ferocious attacking force. Knowing that United had failed to win at Anfield earlier in the day gave City the motivation to go out and claim top spot which they did with aplomb despite David Silva, Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri being left on the benched. Undeterred by the Carlos Tevez saga still hanging a dark cloud over Eastlands 10 wins out of their last 11 meant confidence was high going into the game. Villa had also started the season strongly under new boss McLeish and they should have taken an early lead with the in-form Gabriel Agbonlahor brushing Joleon Lescott aside only to see his placed strike saved by Joe Hart. It proved to be their only meaningful chance of the first period as City responded to that wake up call by taking the lead through Balotelli.
The broody Italian scored last time out against Blackburn and repeated the feat scoring a truly sublime goal to underline is irrefutable talent. Villa’s defence failed to properly clear a Johnson corner and after Micah Richards sent the ball back into the box Balotelli acrobatically lashed the ball past Shay Given for his fourth goal in as many appearances. The second period proved to be a greater source of goals with Johnson doubling their lead two minutes after the restart taking advantage of a horrendous mistake from Warnock to finish cooly past Given. The hosts were rampant now and Kompany made it three after 52 minutes heading in a Johnson corner to send Villa’s afternoon spiralling from bad to worse.
With the points tied up City took their foot off the gas and conceded their first home goal of the season allowing Warnock to make up for his error lashing home Agbonlahor’s cross at the back post via the bar. But the home side weren’t finished and former Villan Milner finished the scoring in style. After spreading a delicious pass out to Johnson he made his way towards the edge of the area where the ball found him again, via Gareth Barry, before curling home a wonderful finish respecting his former club by refusing to celebrate his strike. However it was a fitting way to end the contest and send City to the Premier League summit opening up a two-point lead over their arch rivals in the process.