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Premier League | Gameweek 31
Apr 3, 2024 at 8.15pm UK
Etihad Stadium
AV

Man City
4 - 1
Aston Villa

Rodri (11'), Foden (45+1', 62', 69')
Grealish (32')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Duran (20')
Luiz (38'), Chambers (90+4')

Hat-trick hero Phil Foden inspires Manchester City to comfortable win over Aston Villa

:Headline: Hat-trick hero Phil Foden inspires Manchester City to comfortable win over Aston Villa:
Phil Foden scores a hat-trick as Manchester City cruise to a 4-1 home victory over Aston Villa in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
Sports Mole

Phil Foden scored a superb hat-trick to inspire Manchester City to a comfortable 4-1 home victory over Aston Villa in the Premier League on Wednesday night.

The Englishman netted his first from a direct free kick on the stroke of half time, after Villa forward Jhon Duran had cancelled out an early opener from Rodri.

Unai Emery's men posed a threat on the counter-attack and had a few chances to draw level early in the second half, but City's dominance ultimately prevailed and Foden scored twice within the space of seven minutes midway through the second 45 to complete his hat-trick – increasing his goal tally for the season to 21 in all competitions.

Despite claiming their 20th Premier League victory of the season, Pep Guardiola's side remain third in the table, now level on points with second-placed Liverpool, who face Sheffield United on Thursday, and one point behind new leaders Arsenal, who beat Luton Town 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium this evening.

As for Aston Villa, they stay in fourth spot but sit only two points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who could leapfrog them into the top four if they were to win their game in hand – Spurs dropped two points in a 1-1 draw at West Ham United on Tuesday.

The headline team news prior to kickoff was the omission of both Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne from Guardiola's starting lineup – Mateo Kovacic and the injured Nathan Ake also made way, while Rico Lewis, Jeremy Doku, Jack Grealish and Julian Alvarez were all recalled to the City side.

As for Villa, Emery opted to make five changes to the side that beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 last weekend, although he was forced to make a sixth less than an hour before kickoff as Emiliano Martinez pulled out through illness – Robin Olsen started between the sticks as a result.

Injured top scorer Ollie Watkins was a notable absentee for the visitors, with Duran starting up front in his place, while 20-year-old midfielder Tim Iroegbunam was handed just his second Premier League start for the Villans and his first of the season.

The first chance of the contest fell to the hosts in the second minute, with Jack Grealish – booed by the fans of his former club in the away section – setting up Alvarez down the left channel before the Argentine smashed a shot from a tight angle into the side-netting.

City dominated proceedings in the opening exchanges and they required just 10 minutes to open the scoring; Foden slipped in Doku down the right flank and his cut-back to Rodri inside the penalty area was swept high into the net with a first-time finish at the near post – the goal stood following a brief VAR check for offside.

Villa's first attempt came just four minutes later when Duran met a ball over the top of City's defence and fired a first-time volley on the spin that was kept out brilliantly by a diving save from Stefan Ortega – the Villa striker was ruled offside, though.

However, Duran made no mistake at the second time of asking and restored parity for Villa with a smart left-footed finish that rolled into the far corner after he received a clever through-ball down the left from ex-Man City youngster Morgan Rogers, who began a well-worked counter-attack for the visitors.

There were plenty of appeals from the hosts for an offside in the build-up, but VAR confirmed that Duran was onside in two separate stages of the Villa attack, and the goal stood.

Man City responded well and came close to restoring their lead when Doku curled the ball from right to left towards Grealish, who smacked a volley into the ground that bounced narrowly wide of the far post; City's No.10 was then booked not long after for venting his frustration at a dubious foul.

The hosts continued to patiently probe in and around Villa's box and they eventually broke through the lines when Alvarez played a neat one-two with Lewis, but Olsen produced a strong save to deny the Argentine from eight yards out.

Villa seemed to have done enough to head into half time level, but City were awarded a dangerous free kick on the edge of the area after Foden was needlessly fouled by Douglas Luiz. Foden stepped up and fired his effort through the gap in a poorly-organised Villa wall and into the bottom-left corner.

City almost added a third in first-half stoppage time when Alvarez met a dinked cross from the left, but his header was tipped over the crossbar by Olsen.

Both sides made quick starts to the second half; Moussa Diaby broke away on the counter-attack, but Josko Gvardiol raced back to make a superb block, before Olsen made himself big to deny two strikes from Doku and another from Bernardo Silva at the other end.

Villa, who looked a constant threat on the counter-attack, found themselves in a three-on-two situation driving at City's goal, but after Luiz and Diaby combined in the box, the former could only watch his first-time strike directed over the crossbar by the fingertips or Ortega.

The Citizens' goalkeeper was called into action again from the resulting corner as he dived to his left to keep out a glancing header from Clement Lenglet, before the hosts cleared their lines.

Man City never lost their rhythm when in possession and a well-worked move eventually resulted in a goal just after the hour mark; Rodri weaved past one Villa man and slotted a precise pass in between two more for Foden, just inside the area, to stroke a left-footed finish in off the post.

Just seven minutes later, Foden completed his hat-trick when he blocked a poor attempted clearance from Lenglet on the edge of Villa's box before setting himself up for a thunderous left-footed strike into the top corner.

Matheus Nunes came on for Bernardo and fired a brilliant 20-yard strike inches over the crossbar not long after his introduction, before Foden received rapturous applause as he made way for Oscar Bobb in the final 10 minutes.

Villa offered little threat in front of goal for the final 15 minutes, while the Citizens should have scored a fifth deep into stoppage time when substitute Sergio Gomez somehow placed a low left-footed strike from around eight yards out a whisker wide of the near post.

Nevertheless, City cruised to victory and have extended their unbeaten run across all competitions to 24 matches, while they have not lost in any of their last 15 top-flight games since suffering a 1-0 defeat to Villa in the reverse fixture in December.

Man City have little time to prepare for their next Premier League fixture away against Crystal Palace on Saturday lunchtime, and the same can be said for Aston Villa who welcome Brentford to the West Midlands just a few hours later. body check tags ::

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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City38287396346291
2Arsenal38285591296289
3Liverpool382410486414582
4Aston Villa382081076611568
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs382061274611366
6Chelsea381891177631463
7Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381861485622360
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd38186145758-160
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham381410146074-1452
10Crystal Palace381310155758-149
11Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton381212145562-748
12Bournemouth38139165467-1348
13Fulham38138175561-647
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38137185065-1546
15Everton38139164051-1140
16Brentford38109195665-939
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest3899204967-1832
RLuton TownLuton3868245285-3326
RBurnley3859244178-3724
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd38372835104-6916
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