City keep dream alive
By Mark Townsend
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Manchester City kept alive their hopes of a UEFA Cup spot with a win at Villa.
Manchester City kept alive their Uefa Cup hopes after an early double blast helped them to a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa.
Shaun Wright-Phillips scored a cracker after five minutes and Kiki Musampa added a second after 12 minutes before Juan Pablo Angel pulled one back but it was not enough for the home side despite a much-improved dispplay in the second half.
The home side came into the match with three changes to the side which were thumped by Tottenham 5-1 last Sunday with Thomas Sorensen replacing Stefan Postma in goal after recovering from illness.
Ulises de la Cruz also returned at right back ahead of Liam Ridgewell while Lee Hendrie was back after two matches on the bench in place of Nolberto Solano.
Nedum Onuoha moved to centre back following ankle surgery to Richard Dunne and Danny Mills came in at right back to start his first game under caretaker boss Stuart Pearce.
Ben Thatcher was also recalled along with Jonathan Macken as Robbie Fowler was sidelined with a calf injury.
The visitors started the brighter and should have gone ahead in the third minute but Musampa dragged his shot horribly wide after being set up by Macken.
But just two minutes later Wright-Phillips opened the scoring with a superb effort to register his 11th of the season.
The England international picked up the ball 10 yards inside the Villa half before skipping past two defenders and thumping the ball low past Sorensen.
Villa came back into the game and threatened an equaliser but the lead was doubled seven minutes later when Musampa atoned for his earlier effort.
Antoine Sibierski pounced on an error by Mark Delaney and his cross was flicked on by Macken to Musampa, who hammered a left-foot shot into the top corner.
Angel flashed a header just wide from a Thomas Hitzlsperger free kick as the home crowd began to vent their frustration.
City could have added a third when Martin Laursen was dispossessed by Macken, who fed a wide-open Sibierski but the Frenchman took too long to get his shot away allowing Laursen to get back and Musampa saw his follow-up also blocked.
David O'Leary's side could have reduced the deficit before the break but Steven Davis, twice, failed to find the net.
The teenager first fired his shot into the side-netting after being teed up by Hendrie and was then denied by David James after ghosting in behind a poor chest back by Thatcher.
Villa made a couple of changes after the interval with Solano and Eric Djemba-Djemba replacing Jlloyd Samuel and Hitzlsperger and the substitutions almost made an immediate impact.
The Peruvian had a shot blocked by Thatcher seconds after the restart before Djemba-Djemba headed the resultant corner over.
Darius Vassell then broke clear in behind Mills but his shot was palmed away by James and the ball just evaded the onrushing Angel and went for a corner.
But the Colombian did pull one back on the hour. The striker collected a pass from Solano, after a neat dummy by Hendrie, and after holding off three defenders drilled home his ninth goal of the season.
Villa were now in complete control of the game and pressed for an equaliser but a sloppy piece of defending by Delaney almost allowed Wright-Phillips to seal the points.
His back-pass was too weak and the City star nipped in and beat Sorensen to the ball but his lob, thankfully for Villa, dropped over the bar.
Wright-Phillips broke free again shortly after but his touch was too heavy and Delaney nipped in to block his shot.
At the other end James was being kept busy and the England keeper did well to keep out a Solano free kick before the lively midfielder delivered an inswinging free kick that Gareth Barry narrowly headed wide three minutes from time.
Musampa nearly grabbed his second and City's third in injury time but his 12-yard shot hit the upright.
City now face Middlesbrough in a winner-takes-all clash at The City of Manchester Stadium next weekend.
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|Aston Villa||Team Name||Manchester City|
|7||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||4|
|7||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||6|
|8||Total Fouls Conceded||21|