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  • Aston Villa 0-1 Man City, Premier League

Tevez strike keeps Man City fighting

ESPN staff
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Carlos Tevez netted Manchester City's winner against Aston Villa © PA Photos
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Carlos Tevez kept alive Manchester City's slim hopes of retaining their Premier League title with a first-half winner in a 1-0 win at relegation-threatened Aston Villa.

Tevez, who replaced knee injury victim Sergio Aguero, broke the deadlock in first-half injury-time after a mistake by Villa defender Ciaran Clark.

Victory again cut runaway leaders Manchester United's advantage to a still formidable 12 points with only 10 games remaining. It also moved Roberto Mancini's side five points clear of in-form Tottenham, but Villa's seventh home reverse of the season means they remain in the bottom three.

City made a sluggish start to the game, but once they stepped up a gear, Villa were indebted to several fine saves from Brad Guzan for keeping them in contention. Tevez was a constant threat to the Villa rearguard with his skill and energy while James Milner posed problems down the flank against his former club.

Villa showed plenty of spirit and commitment and striker Christian Benteke won the aerial battle with the City defence.

Their thoughts will now turn to back-to-back matches with Reading and QPR, which will have a massive impact on whether they can cling on to their top-flight status. But they will be without midfielder Fabian Delph, whose injury-time caution for handball earned him his 10th booking of the season and a two-game ban.

Villa initially belied their lowly league position and quickly took the game to City. Keeper Joe Hart was unconvincing when attempting to punch clear a cross from Joe Bennett.

Matija Nastasic did well to deal with a cross from Gabriel Agbonlahor when under pressure from Benteke. But the visitors were relieved when a dipping centre across the face of goal from Bennett just eluded the lunge of Andreas Weimann.

Benteke was causing plenty of problems in the air and climbed above the City defence to head over an Ashley Westwood corner. City were indebted to Tevez clearing a Benteke header off the line after 22 minutes from a Charles N'Zogbia centre.

City regrouped and Jack Rodwell forced Villa keeper Guzan to tip over a shot from a narrow angle. But it was his last contribution, with the former Everton player picking up an injury in the Villa box and he was replaced by Edin Dzeko.

City started to take control and the defensive wall parted when defending a Milner free-kick, but Guzan was equal to the effort from the former Villa player. The United States international then palmed a curling drive from Pablo Zabaleta on to a post.

It was one-way traffic now towards the Villa goal and Guzan again excelled in finger-tipping away Tevez's effort from the edge of the box. But Tevez broke the deadlock in first-half injury-time with his 11th goal of the season.

Clark was caught in possession by Dzeko when trying to be over-elaborate and appealed in vain for a foul as he threaded the ball through to Tevez, who kept calm and cut back inside the box before slotting past Guzan.

It was a hammer blow for Villa and City continued on the offensive at the start of the second period. Dzeko showed neat control before having a volley deflected past a post.

Matthew Lowton cleared a shot on the turn from Tevez off the line after he had been teed up by Dzeko. Then Yaya Toure's angled low shot hit a post and Dzeko had strayed offside before converting the rebound.

Lowton drilled a fierce effort just wide but Villa posed few threats in the closing stages despite Benteke continuing to dominate in the air.

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