Balotelli 29, A Johnson 46, Kompany 51, Milner 70
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 15 October 2011 16:57
- Posted by Peter Ferguson
Irrepressible. That's the only way to describe this team at the moment. Their second four-goal victory took City to the top of the Barclays Premier League in a fashion to delight the fans.
Shay Given came back to a warm welcome from the fans but that was cold comfort as goals from Mario Balotelli, Adam Johnson, Vincent Kompany and James Milner took City into No.1 spot.
The 47,000 crowd finished up serenading their former hero Richard Dunne - a lacklustre Stephen Ireland earlier received a fine ovation - but it's to the future that Mancini's men are looking with verve and a swaggering assurance.
Maybe, just maybe, it might have turned out differently if Villa, playing with their own confidence born of a fine start, had taken the lead through Gabby Agbonlahor with just 11 minutes gone.
Having shouldered Joleon Lescott off the ball, he cut in from the left and tried to beind his shot around last barrier Joe Hart, but the City keeper was able to parry and, when the ball came flying back towards goal, Vincent Kompany was there to head it for a corner.
Villa never had a better chance as City took control, and the Blues might have led with the cheekiest goal of the season, but James Milner's backheel from a wide Balotelli shot clipped the outside of Shay Given's post.
Balotelli, resuming his fine Blackburn form as if the last fortnight had never occured, was desperate to make an impact on the game, and saw Given tip another, long-range effort wide.
When the Villa fans baited him as he ran into the advertising hoardings, he put an admonishing finger to his lips but there was a far more stinging rebuke to come for the travelling fans.
Micah Richards brought down Adam Johnson's corner, but not well enough to have a pop at Given's goal himself. No matter. Balotelli took the bounce on his chest then executed a superb bicycle kick.
It was a goal worthy of being a match winner - Given was rooted to his line, Villa defenders could only watch it loop over their heads - and it seemed to galvanise Balotelli even further.
Whether or not he has decided to collect man of the match awards for a hobby, he laid down his marker for another one with a performance that mixed energy, skill and endeavour in equal measure.
His team-mates were not to be outdone as Adam Johnson gave City a two-goal cushion with the second half barely under way
Yaya Toure's lofted through ball caught out the stretching Stephen Warnock, who had allowed Johnson to drift into space, and as the ball fell nicely the Blues winger steered a low half volley across Given and inside the far post.
That was after 46 minutes. Five minutes later the game was as good as over. Given had saved from Balotelli before Gareth Barry's shot was blocked, but he had no chance with Vincent Kompany's fierce header from the corner.
Villa refused to buckle, but they needed some dithering in the City defence to help them pull one back, with Milner's desperate attempt to block not enough to stop Warnock's shot in off the bar.
The visiting cheer for that one was dwarfed by that which greeted the introduction of David Silva, one of the stars Mancini had rested after their international exertions.
And Villa's impertinence in spoiling Hart's clean sheet was punished by a clinical combination of two old boys. Barry teed the ball up, Milner swung almost nonchalantly to sweep the ball home.
Villa substitute Barry Bannon managed to earn a yellow card with a challenge of sheer frustration on De Jong as City tapped the ball around to wind down time. The title clock is still ticking.