Live Commentary: Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester City - as it happened

Live Commentary: Villa 0-1 City - as it happened
© PA Photos
Read how Manchester City just edged out Aston Villa in a tight game at Villa Park.

It was an important game at both ends of the table as Aston Villa welcomed Manchester City to Villa Park this evening.

City closed the gap to Manchester United to 12 points at the top thanks to Carlos Tevez's goal just before half time.

Read how the game unfolded in our minute-by-minute updates below.

7.01pmEvening all! Massive match at both ends of the table this one. The teams aren't in yet but it shouldn't be long.

7.02pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS! Sergio Aguero not in the City starting lineup.

7.03pmCITY XI: Hart; Zabaleta, Kolo Toure, Nastasic, Clichy; Garcia, Milner, Rodwell; Silva, Tevez, Yaya Toure

7.05pmHere's an explanation from the City Twitter feed: "No @aguerosergiokun tonight. The striker has picked up a knee injury in training so misses out."

7.06pmVILLA XI: Guzan; Lowton, Clark, Baker, Bennett; Westwood, Delph; N’Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Weimann; Benteke

7.07pmThe bad news for Villa is that captain Ron Vlaar hasn't been passed fit. That means that the hosts' defence does look very dodgy. They'll be glad that Aguero hasn't made the side.

7.10pmAguero's absence means that Carlos Tevez earns a start in the City attack.

7.13pmAnd here are the two substitute benches this evening:

Villa: Given, Sylla, Holman, Dawkins, Lichaj, El Ahmadi, Bowery
City: Pantilimon, Lescott, Kolarov, Nasri, Sinclair, Barry, Dzeko

7.17pmLooking at those benches you can just see the gulf in talent between the two sides. City can bring on Aleksander Kolarov, Samir Nasri, Scott Sinclar, Gareth Barry and Edin Dzeko while Villa's most dangerous looking sub is Brett Holman.

7.19pmCity manager Roberto Mancini tells Sky Sports News that Aguero picked up the injury in training yesterday.

7.20pmMancini also concedes that United's lead atop the table of 15 points is too big a gap to close. He says that his players must continue to believe in themselves.

7.24pmIt was rumoured that former Villan Gareth Barry could make a return from injury against his former club but he's only fit enough for the bench.

7.26pmAnother man who misses out for City is captain Vincent Kompany. The Belgian international has been sidelined with a calf problem of late and isn't fit enough to make the squad tonight. Mancini is hopeful that City's talisman will be fit for the FA Cup tie against Barnsley at the weekend.

7.30pmEveryone is expecting an away win tonight but Villa aren't going into this one with no hope. Both Paul Lambert and defender Ciaran Clark have said that they can get a win.

7.34pmIn reverse fixture in November, City thumped Villa to go top of the table. That day the champions scored four goals in the second half and Tevez got two of those.

7.38pmNeither Villa nor City go into this match on good form in the league. Villa have won just one of their last 10 while City have registered one win in their last five.

7.41pmTonight's match marks a slight landmark for Mancini as City's Twitter account tells us: "Roberto Mancini takes charge of his 125th #MCFC league game tonight, making him our longest serving @premierleague manager."

7.45pmCity will also have to buck a trend if they're to take the three points tonight. The visitors are playing in their third kit of dark blue tonight, a kit they've yet to win in.

7.48pmREFEREE WATCH: Tonight's man in charge is Mike Dean.

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7.52pmAguero has been tweeting to his followers. He says: "I felt a crick in my right knee during last training so I won't make it against Aston Villa today.

"It's a pity I can't be there for my team at this moment. All I can do is recover, and I'm already on it. C'mon, City!"

7.55pmPREDICTION TIME: With five minutes until we begin, it's time for my thoughts ahead of the game. It's impossible not to side with City and I'm plumping for a 3-1 away win. Yaya to score first.

7.58pmBoth sides are out on the field and we're just about ready to go in Birmingham.

0 minKICKOFF! David Silva and Carlos Tevez get us underway.

1 minRough challenge from Agbonlahor on Zabaleta inside the first 15 seconds. Might have earned a booking later in the match but so early on Dean lets it go.

3 minVery, very careless from City. Bennett's cross is sliced high into the sky by Garcia and Hart comes to punch but also gets no forward motion on it and it just goes up. Luckily for the visitors, Kolo is up highest to head away the danger.

6 minLovely cross again from Bennett that Weimann can't quite reach and the ball flashes across the six-yard box and out for a corner. Benteke meets the resulting delivery but nods it well over.

11 minFirst City shot of the game comes from Rodwell as he lets fly on his left from 25 yards. He hits it well but that was never troubling Guzan.

13 minAt least the Villa fans still know how to have a laugh. Two of them are dressed in full astronaut suits with the banner 'Benteke is out of this world'.

16 minSuper lung-busting run from Delph avoiding challenges impresses the home crowd greatly. Still no real chances at either end.

18 minWe're going to have a break in play as Zabaleta stays down after N'Zogbia accidentally kicked him in the head.

20 minAs always from the Villa fans they warmly applaud the absent Stiliyan Petrov after 19 minutes. Very nice.

21 minOFF THE LINE! Best chance of the game by a long way as the ever-dangerous Benteke powerfully meets a corner and heads it down towards the bottom corner. Unfortunately for the Belgian, Tevez is there to hoof it clear.

22 minCity go straight down the other end and Rodwell quickly flicks it onto his left and lashes goalwards. Guzan has to tip over.

23 minCROCK! Unfortunately for Rodwell, taking that shot has caused a hamstring problem and he's devastated. Looks like Dzeko will take his place.

25 minCITY SUB: Yep, it's the Bosnian striker to enter. That will surely mean that Yaya will drop slightly into the middle of midfield.

27 minRodwell has always promised so much but he's been plagued by injuries throughout his short career. Hopefully this latest setback won't keep him out for too long.

32 minCity win a free kick about 25 yards out on the left and Milner opts to shoot. He doesn't catch it great but the wall splits and the ball zips through. Guzan is alert though and manages to hold on.

36 minClever turn in the middle of the park from Silva to fox a pair of Villa midfielders and he looks to find Tevez but overhits the through ball.

37 minOFF THE POST! Closest that City have come by a long way as Zabaleta, who is having a wonderful season going forward, collects a Silva pass and cuts back onto his left foot before rifling a shot towards the far corner. It doesn't look it at first but Guzan in fact tipped it onto the inside of the upright. Fine save.

39 minDear oh dear Mr Milner. The Englishman works a quick short corner with Silva and he has so much room to drive into the box. It's almost too much time as he decides to try and line up the far corner but overdoes it, wasting a great chance.

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41 minSAVE! City have started dominate all of a sudden and it's another fine Guzan save that keeps the visitors out. Tevez hesitated on the edge of the area to open up a yard of space before fizzing a curler towards the far corner that the American had to beat away.

43 minCity have gone from first to fourth gear in the last five minutes. This time it's Milner who does a step over down the left before clipping into the middle. It's a good cross but just beats the head of Tevez.

45+1 minGOAL! Villa 0-1 City (Tevez)

45+1 minWhat a horror show from Clark. Villa are within a couple of minutes of reaching half time level but the centre-back is caught in possession by Dzeko and he races clear. He could take the shot on himself but unselfishly lays in Tevez who fools Guzan and Baker by feinting a shot before rolling the ball past Clark on the line.

45+2 minHALF-TIME: Villa 0-1 City

8.50pmAn excellent start to the half from Villa but City completely dominated the final 10 minutes of the half and that goal at the end was definitely coming.

8.52pmHowever, the way the goal was conceded will have absolutely crushed Lambert. Clark protested that he was fouled but it would have been so soft if Dean had seen it that way. Dzeko did the right thing in laying off to Tevez who was never going to miss.

8.55pmIf you've only just joined us and want a quick recap of the first half, read Barney Corkhill's half-time report by clicking here.

8.58pmHere's some stats from the first period:

Shots 5
On target 2
Possession 48%
Corners 2
Fouls 5

Shots 8
On target 6
Possession 52%
Corners 2
Fouls 8

9.01pmThe complete change in City's intensity did relate to when Dzeko was introduced for Rodwell. The Bosnian gave the visitors a focal point and they improved markably afterwards.

46 minKICKOFF! Villa get the second 45 underway.

47 minCLOSE! City break up the field quickly and Silva feeds Tevez. The Argentine could shoot but instead cuts it back for Dzeko who volleys an effort just wide of goal. Nice try.

54 minOFF THE LINE! City are looking increasingly threatening on the counter attack and it's Dzeko stealing the ball again like he did for the goal. Again he finds Tevez who holds off a pair of challenges to get into the area. He should pass it on for Silva but goes alone and sees his shot hacked clear by Clark.

61 minDzeko really has done well for City since coming on. Again he does well to get out of a tight corner and find Milner who in turn pokes it through for Tevez. He rolls it out wide for the onrushing Zabaleta who returns it to his fellow countryman but his shot is blocked.

62 minBetter from Villa as Benteke releases Weimann down the right and he crosses for Agbonlahor who heads over.

64 minFree kick right on the edge of the area, just right of centre for City. Big chance.

65 minTevez gets the honour of taking it ahead of Silva. He actually tries to chip it over the wall and in but hits the top of the wall.

65 minVILLA SUB: Lambert makes his first change as N'Zogbia is replaced by Brett Holman.

66 minSHOT! Whoosh! Agbonlahor rolls the ball across the field for Lowton who just thinks 'Oh heck, let's have a go!' He strikes it ever so sweetly first time but cuts across it too much and it swerves wide of Hart's right-hand post.

71 minMancini will hate only having a one-goal lead as we enter the final 20. Villa are yet to test Hart in goal but the hosts could grab a goal.

72 minDISALLOWED! Yaya swivels on the edge of the area and hits a left-foot shot against the foot of the post. It pops out for Dzeko to smash home but the Bosnian was in an offside position.

75 minCITY SUB: City goalscorer Tevez's night is over as he is replaced by Samir Nasri.

80 minVilla continue to plough away but they're just not scary enough to breach the City defence. Weimann is the latest to have a low-percentage shot and it flies miles over.

83 minReal fizzer of a cross from Baker finds Benteke and he heads it down across goal but Hart is alert to come and claim.

84 minSilva's corner reaches Garcia who had pulled away from the melee and he volleys goalwards but can't direct it on target.

84 minVILLA SUB: Youngster Simon Dawkins is on for Weimann.

85 minVILLA SUB: And a final change for the hosts as Karim El-Ahmadi replaces Westwood.

88 minVilla are pressing for an equaliser and they want a penalty as Benteke tumbles under the challenge of Nastasic. Dean could have easily given that but perhaps his view was obstructed.

90 minCITY SUB: Final change for the visitors as Gareth Barry comes on for Silva. Four minutes have been added on at the end of the game.

90+2 minVilla really pressing here. Can City hold out?

90+3 minVilla do well to win a corner but it's hit straight out of play. Awful.

90+4 minYELLOW! First booking of the match for Delph and that's his 10th of the season so he misses the next two games and they're crucial ones against Reading and QPR.

90+5 minFULL-TIME: Villa 0-1 City

9.53pmCity scrape the win then thanks to Tevez's calm finish just before the interval. The visitors were better for the middle hour of the match but Villa started and ended the match the stronger.

9.56pmThat win means City cut the deficit to United to 12 points at the top. Villa, meanwhile, remain rooted in the bottom three and have the worst goal difference of anyone in the division.

9.59pmThanks for joining Sports Mole this evening. Click here for Barney's match report, including full-size images from the game. Make sure you stay on site for analysis and reaction. Good night.

Villa keeper Brad Guzan celebrates the win over Liverpool on December 15, 2012
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