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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 December 2007, 17:03 GMT
Aston Villa 1-1 Man City
Rolando Bianchi wheels away after putting Man City ahead at Aston Villa
Rolando Bianchi wheels away after putting Man City ahead at Villa
Aston Villa and Manchester City fought out a dull stalemate.

Rolando Bianchi gave City the lead from Martin Petrov's cross after 11 minutes, but John Carew's deflected shot put Villa level three minutes later.

Villa took control, with City keeper Joe Hart turning Carew's shot on to the post and Elano clearing Gabriel Agbonlahor's effort off the line.

City's Petrov wasted a good chance to seal a win late on, shooting wide from substitute Vedran Corluka's cross.


City's rejuvenated striker Bianchi capped a fine start by the visitors with the opening goal after 11 minutes.

Petrov took massive credit with a classic left-wing cross that simply invited the Italian to slide it home from eight yards.

The Villa Park crowd had already grown restless, but Martin O'Neill's side equalised in slightly fortuitous fashion three minutes later.

The giant Carew ran on to Wilfred Bouma's pass and got ahead of Richard Dunne to send a deflected shot beyond City keeper Hart.

City suddenly went into their shell and Villa dominated for the rest of the first half, with Carew's stature causing major problems.

Villa were a real threat at corners, and thought they had taken the lead after 24 minutes.

Agbonlahor bundled Ashley Young's corner towards goal, and it needed a last-ditch clearance from Elano to save City, despite appeals from Villa that the ball had crossed the line.

Television replays proved inconclusive, although the Villa players were clearly angered by the failure to give a goal.

Carew almost got his second after 30 minutes, when Hart turned his 20-yard shot on to the post - although City made justified claims for both offside and handball.

City managed to stem the flow of Villa attacks after the break, but were struggling to get their own match-winners Petrov and Elano into the game.

The Brazilian had a chance with an angled free-kick from 20 yards, but he could not find his usual accuracy and curled his effort well over.

It was Elano's final contribution, the talismanic midfield man looking short of full fitness, and he was replaced by Javier Garrido with 15 minutes left.

Petrov had a glorious chance to put City in front after 80 minutes when he was found unmarked at the far post by substitute Vedran Corluka, but he swept a poor finish off target.

Nigel Reo-Coker then led a Villa counter-attack, but delayed with Agbonlahor waiting unmarked and City defender Michael Ball recovered to clear.

Hart was then alert to race out of his area to block Agbonlahor as he raced through.

  • Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill:
    "It was frustrating because we started on the back foot and conceded an early goal again. I feel we should have won in the end.

    "John Carew was fantastic, unplayable at times. He was immense with players hanging over him all game. It was a phenomenal performance and he doesn't get too many fouls either.

    "He is supposed to just look after himself because he is so tall, but overall I couldn't be more pleased with the team."

  • Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson:
    "I was very happy with the spirit out there. We fought and tried to win.

    "I was pleased Rolando Bianchi scored again. It was a typical Bianchi goal and he is settling in better and better.

    "Villa were dangerous on the counter-attack, but the alternative is not to attack and we always want to take the risk and attack."

    Aston Villa: Carson, Mellberg, Knight, Laursen, Bouma, Maloney (Petrov 75), Reo-Coker, Barry, Young, Agbonlahor, Carew.
    Subs Not Used: Taylor, Harewood, Davies, Gardner.

    Booked: Barry, Reo-Coker.

    Goals: Carew 14.

    Man City: Hart, Onuoha, Dunne, Richards, Ball, Vassell, Hamann (Corluka 70), Gelson, Petrov, Elano (Garrido 76), Bianchi (Etuhu 85).
    Subs Not Used: Isaksson, Geovanni.

    Booked: Hamann, Gelson, Ball, Vassell.

    Goals: Bianchi 11.

    Att: 41,455

    Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Aston Villa's John Carew 7.19 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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