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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 May, 2005, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Aston Villa 1-2 Man City
Manchester City's Shaun Wright-Phillips (right) celebrates his wonder goal with Jon Macken
Manchester City continued their push for a place in Europe with a narrow victory away at Aston Villa.

City raced out of the blocks and Shaun Wright-Phillips put them in front with a wonder goal, dancing past Villa defenders and rifling into the corner.

Kiki Musampa doubled the advantage, volleying home from Jon Macken's flick to capitalise on some poor defending.

Juan Pablo Angel lashed past David James to pull one back but City defended well to hold on for the win.

The last time Stuart Pearce won the manager of the month award, at Nottingham Forest in January 1997, he won just one of his next 15 games as the Reds were relegated from the Premiership.

He clearly was not going to allow the same collapse to happen to City and they started looking every bit the league's in-form outfit.

They had to wait just five minutes to go ahead, and it was a moment of pure genius from Wright-Phillips that gave them the lead.

The little winger picked the ball up just inside the Villa half, brilliantly skipped past two defenders at pace and rifled the ball into the far corner from 18 yards.

City doubled their lead with another fabulous goal, Macken flicking Antoine Sibierski's cross into Musampa's path, the Dutchman hitting a stunning volley into the top corner.

The Villa fans could scarcely believe their side's woeful start and began booing their team at every opportunity.

City were rampant, but they nearly gifted a goal away as the half drew to a close, Ben Thatcher's header letting in Steven Davis only for James to make a brilliant save with his knee.

Villa boss David O'Leary brought on Nolberto Solano and Eric Djemba-Djemba at the interval and both went close within a minute of the restart as Villa upped the tempo.

On the hour mark they did get a footing in the game with a lovely goal, Lee Hendrie dummying for Angel, who powered into the box before blasting low past James' despairing dive.

But Mark Delaney did his best to throw it all away, a careless back pass letting in Wright-Phillips who, out of character, chipped over both Sorensen and the crossbar.

Villa piled forward as they sought an equaliser but chances were few and far between, Gareth Barry's header that drifted wide their best chance to earn a point.

City could have even made it 3-1, Musampa drilling against the post from 15 yards after another fine passing move.

Aston Villa boss David O'Leary:
"We've gifted a team a two-goal start and afterwards dominated, scored one and should have scored more," he said.

"We can't afford to be doing that. We're a bit disjointed with injuries but losing goals has cost us big time.

"We've tried to sort things out at half-time recently, we're not starting games properly. I haven't been able to put the 11 I want out all season long."

Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce:
"It's going to be a very tough hurdle to jump next week as Boro are a good side, but we're going to give it a really good go, it's game on.

"We came out of the blocks well at Aston Villa and showed character in the second half when we needed to.

"As for Shaun, he's done it so often you start to take it for granted."

Aston Villa: Sorensen, De la Cruz, Laursen, Delaney, Samuel (Djemba-Djemba 45), Hendrie (Moore 78), Davis, Hitzlsperger (Solano 45), Barry, Angel, Vassell. Subs Not Used: Postma, Ridgewell.

Booked: Solano.

Goals: Angel 61.

Man City: James, Mills, Distin, Onuoha, Thatcher, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Reyna, Barton, Musampa, Sibierski (Bradley Wright-Phillips 71), Macken (Croft 79).
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Sommeil, Jordan.

Booked: Barton.

Goals: Shaun Wright-Phillips 5, Musampa 12.

Att: 39,645.

Ref: R Beeby (Northamptonshire).

Interview: Aston Villa boss David O'Leary

Interview: Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce


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