Aston Villa’s new record signing, Darren Bent, became an instant hero as a goal on his debut was enough to see off Manchester City.
The 24-million-pound man was given a rapturous welcome by the Villa Park faithful beforehand, and he repaid them in the best possible way, with his 18th minute striking sealing a 1-0 result.
Of the early exchanges City looked more threatening, Aleksander Kolarov drilled over free kicks and corners but no one could get on the end to convert.
Villa weathered the early storm and Bent’s magic moment came when Gabby Agbonlahor played a ball through to Ashley Young. His curling effort was well saved by Joe Hart, but Bent was on hand to convert the rebound.
City were almost level four minutes later when Vincent Kompany’s header was expertly tipped over by Brad Friedel.
And ex-Villa man Gareth Barry went even closer, heading a Jerome Boateng cross inches wide.
Villa finished the first half stronger and Hart had to be alert to get behind efforts from Ashley Young and Stewart Downing.
And the City keeper was busy again in the 66th minute, diving low to palm away another long-range Young effort.
Manchester City stepped up the pressure, while Villa were content to sit deep and catch them on the break.
But it was certainly an off day for the visitors as, while they had plenty of possession, they were frustrated in front of goal.
James Collins in particular was a rock in the Villa defence, making some outstanding goal-saving blocks, the best averting a Carlos Tevez volley from close range with 12 minutes to go.
Nigel de Jong looked to have rescued a point with seven minutes left, but his 20-yard drive took a lucky deflection off Ciaran Clark and then the post.
Seconds later Edin Dzeko headed a great chance wide from close range, and Kolarov saw another shot deflected wide before hitting another into the stand.