Thursday, 3 March 2011

City 3 - 0 Villa

  • Not one of the great FA Cup fifth-round matches, but warmingly satisfying given recent events. This was probably our best performance in 2011, although evaluations are skewed by Aston Villa's apathy. Their selection and performance last night made their showing in the 4-0 late Christmas present look like some embodiment of dogged resistance. No Ashley Young, no Stewart Downing but no pressure, fight or anything befitting the occasion.
  • Villa's poverty was such that our midfield base of Patrick Vieira and Gareth Barry - usually so susceptible to pressure and pace - were comfortable and really rather successful. They were able to keep the ball and dictate play with more ease than in any other game this season; the pair of them completed 145 from 164 attempted passes. Our control was sufficient to give a territorial advantage, and the first goal came quickly and comfortably. A corner was flicked on and Yaya Touré whipped it into the net from four yards out.
  • From there it was simple enough. The second goal came when Yaya Touré, under no pressure in midfield, clipped a perfect through ball to Mario Balotelli. With Carlos Tévez and Edin Dzeko on the bench, Balotelli led the line (as he did last time when hosted Villa), and while his work-rate was negligible he was sufficient quality to make up for it. Here, he waited for the ball to drop over his shoulder before clipping it into the top corner. It was one of the best finishes this season, harder than it looked, and supportive evidence for the claims of some MCFC coaches that he is the most natural finisher at the club.
  • Villa had some good spells, particularly when they isolated Gabriel Agbonlahor against Micah Richards. But other than one Joe Hart save it was easy for City. The third goal came half-way through the second half, as David Silva controlled a looping cross and struck the ball sweetly into the bottom corner. A technically perfect goal, unsurprisingly. From then it was easy. Not easy enough to bring on Michael Johnson, which was a shame. But the win was easy, deserved, and never in doubt, which is more than we could say about much of our football in recent months.

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