Aston Villa v Manchester City – as it happened

£24m. £24m!

Anyway, no need to be riffing on anybody's pain until they've had a chance to prove themselves. Villa certainly need Darren Bent to hit the ground running, though: they've only been saved from slipping into the relegation places again by Everton's last-minute equaliser against West Ham. Oh Ged!

Manchester City are one of the last teams Villa would choose to face, too. Not only have City lost only two of their last 11 away games, they've conceded a mere nine goals in those matches, fewer than any other side in the division. AND Villa have conceded five penalties in their last five games against City.

Oh Ged! It'd be a good name for a sitcom, that. An age-gap comedy, Darren moving in with his dotty old goat of an uncle, hilarious consequences and all that, a Home To Roost de nos jours. Is Eric Chappell still alive? Someone from LWT should get him on the blower and tell him to get writing, they can have that idea for free.

Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, Clark, Albrighton, Petrov, Downing, Agbonlahor, Ashley Young, Bent.
Subs: Marshall, Pires, Delfouneso, Reo-Coker, Bannan, Herd, Baker.

Manchester City: Hart, Boateng, Toure, Kompany, Kolarov, De Jong, Barry, Silva, Toure Yaya, Tevez, Dzeko.
Subs: Given, Zabaleta, Milner, Adam Johnson, Lescott, Vieira, Jo.

Collapsing-car-driving, custard-pie-flinging, water-from-a-funny-flower-squirting star of Billy Smart's Premier League: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

Kick off: 5.30pm.

Pre-match niceties: Jean Makoun, Villa's new midfielder, has just been on the field waving a scarf about, to cheers and the like. Then the teams strut out, Villan in their trademark claret and blue, City in their fancy white away shirt with red and black sash.

City get the ball rolling. Then they spend the entire first minute stroking it around at the back, with a confident swagger.

2 min: That's two minutes City have been knocking it around now. The visitors look very easy in possession. Villa will be knackered by the 20-minute mark at this rate.

2 min 48 sec - 2 min 51 sec: Villa keep hold of the ball for an extended period of time!

4 min: Tevez slides the ball out wide right to Silva, who is this close to knocking the ball down the line and scooting clear. But Dunne is across and puts in a staunch tackle.

5 min: Villa enjoy their first meaningful period of possession. Young looks to break down the right but is upended by Kompany. The free kick, level with the edge of the centre circle, is swung towards the far post, Dunne heading over. Or was it a corner, the ball coming off a City head? Not sure. Villa don't get it, anyway.

7 min: Another Villa set piece, from a similar area. Downing clips a long ball to the far post, where Collins takes his turn to head over. Can you spot Ged's plan?

8 min: Villa turned up five minutes late, but they're pressing City back now. Young attempts a couple of low crosses from the right - both are cut out - and Agbonlahor probes down the left. City look comfortable enough at the back.

10 min: Down the right, Clark slides in late on Tevez. He should have been booked for what was a very rash challenge, Tevez sent spinning in mid air like a plate on a stick, but isn't. Howard Webb is the referee.

11 min: Kolarov takes the free kick, level with the edge of the penalty box. It flies straight out of play, wide left of goal. That was risible.

13 min: Kolarov makes up for that free kick, a bit, by storming down the left, winning two 50-50 challenges, and finding Kolo Toure in the centre with the resulting corner. Toure blasts wildly over from 12 yards, though, so all his good work goes to waste.

16 min: City spray the ball hither and yon, Dzeko eventually winning his new team a corner down the right. Kolarov takes an exquisite corner, the ball curling through the six-yard box just out of Friedel's reach. At the far post, all Tevez has to do is sidefoot home, but somehow contorts his body into the shape of a question mark - nice touch - and misses the ball altogether. And how costly that miss is, because...

18 min: £24M GOAL!!! Aston Villa 1-0 Manchester City. Young breaks down the inside-left channel, makes it into the box, opens up his body and sidefoots powerfully for the bottom-right corner. Hart - who is making a lot of mistakes this season - palms out weakly, allowing Darren Bent to open his account with a simple-enough tap-in. He races off to celebrate wildly, his shapes mirrored on the touchline by Houllier.

21 min: A corner for City, on the left. Kolarov whips it into the six-yard box again, Kompany meeting the ball with a power header. Friedel tips the ball over the bar from close range. A retake. This time the ball ends up at Kolo Toure's feet on the penalty spot. His rushed volley, hit into the ground and up, hammers into the back of one of his own men. So many corners in the Premier League are a complete waste of time; Kolarov's delivery is deadly.

24 min: "Howard Webb calls every game the same way," writes Tom Ryan. "No cards early no matter how rash the challenge, then tons of cards late no matter how slight the challenge." And here we go: it's now seven yellows in eight games for Clark, who clips Dzeko's ankle and is punished for his trouble. In fairness to Chuckles the Ref, that probably was a yellow, but it wasn't half the challenge Clark's earlier ping on Tevez was, so the Villa youngster should probably be heading off for his bath now.

28 min: City are stroking it around a lot again, but to little effect. If anything, it's Villa who look the more dangerous as a result, as a couple of times they break down the left through Agbonlahor. City's defence soak up the pressure, but Kolarov's corners aside, they're doing nothing. Championship challengers can't be playing like this.

31 min: From the centre circle, Young slides a tasty pass down the inside-left channel in an attempt to release Bent. The ball's just a tad overcooked and flies out of play, but that was close to ripping City's defence in half. "A good Hart is hard to find," quips Christopher Faherty, "with Villa's new signing leaving City Bent all out of shape." Are you angling for a job on the subs' desk?

33 min: Kolarov, despite that early farce of a free kick, has been City's star man so far. Now he breaks down the left and lashes yet another majestic ball through the Villa six-yard box. There's a bit too much pace on the cross, and Dzeko, sliding in, can't get to the ball in time to bundle home.

35 min: Honk! Honk! Here comes Howard! Don't smell his funny flower! Young turns on the spot and diddles Tevez, with a view to tearing upfield on the break. Tevez cynically trips the Villa man, and should go in the book. Can you guess whether he does or not? Maybe Webb thinks he's still playing for Manchester United.

37 min: Barry has been getting pelters from the home crowd - he's an onanist, apparently - but nearly slammed the words back down 30,000 Villa throats here. Boateng finds a bit of space down the right and curls a ball towards the edge of the area, Barry then glancing an effort wide left. That wasn't far away. At all.

40 min: A corner for City. For some reason Kolarov doesn't take this one. Barry has a go instead. His delivery is... how shall I say this... his delivery is more English, let's put it that way. "Championship challengers can't play like this?" splutters Tony Rowly. "Have you not seen Man U this season?" Haw, yes indeed. Though in fairness today's probably not the best day to be trotting out that observation.

44 min: City are tippy-tappy-ing it around, getting absolutely nowhere. They're like a poor man's Arsenal (with more money). "You're missing the key element in achieving a Cult of Refereeing Personality," writes Allan Castle. "Shave your head shiny bald. The archetype being Pierluigi Collina, who like Webb managed to be considered for many top matches regardless of quality of performance, because of his world-class gleam."

HALF TIME: Aston Villa 1-0 Manchester City. Bombing down the inside-right channel to meet a loose ball, Ashley Young fizzes one hell of a low first-time shot goalwards from 20 yards. Hart is behind it all the way. Then Downing hits another low hard strike, a free kick from 25 yards on the left, straight at goal. Again, Hart is behind it. It would appear Villa have decided the keeper is slightly dodgy. And that's it for the half.

And, after 15 minutes o'relaxation, we're off again. City start the half with a high tempo, and show their intent by getting the ball up front quickly to Tevez, who slashes wildly wide left from an exotic angle.

48 min: Neither team can quite get their passing moves flowing, but that's not for the want of trying. The early signs suggest this could be a nice, open half of football. "It's telling that 'Poor man's Arsenal' is an insult, while 'Poor Man's Barcelona' is a mild putdown," writes Nicholas.

50 min: Tevez drops a shoulder, then another, zipping left to right across the D before hammering in a low shot that's deflected wide left. Barry has clearly been told to get his mitts off the set-piece balls; Kolarov is back on corner-taking duty. From which, Kompany gets a decent head to the ball, though his effort flies wide and high.

53 min: City are coming at Villa from all angles, Kolarov and Dzeko cutting in from the left, Silva from the right, Barry and Tevez bustling in the centre. But whenever the ball reaches the edge of the Villa area, the moves break down. Perhaps mindful of this, Kolarov shoots from 25 yards out, tight on the left touchline. Oh come on!

56 min: Yaya Toure slips into overdrive and eats up the left wing. He slips Barry clear with a pass rolled down the touchline, but the former Villa man is caught idiotically offside. What a fool. It's his last act of the match, as he's replaced by Johnson, and to add insult to injury, once again accused of habitual trouser fidgeting by the home crowd.

59 min: Tevez, chasing a high ball into the Villa area, clatters into Collins. Free kick to the home side. That is totally hapless. City are very poor. "How must poor Carlos feel playing in that imitation River Plate strip?" wonders Richard Johnson. I doubt long-standing rivalries, so beloved of fans but less so professional players, have ever overly concerned Mr Tevez.

62 min: Bent wins a £24m header in the centre of the City half, flicking on for Agbonlahor. The Villa man really should burst past Boateng and romp free into the box, but the City defender scraps and battles and clears.

66 min: Young turns De Jong inside and out like a freshly laundered sock, and rasps a shot towards the bottom-left corner from 20 yards. Hart pushes the ball out for a corner, the set piece totally wasted. Villa are beginning to carve out the odd chance here, not bad going for a team with the worst second-half record in the league. (So they say on ESPN, and quite frankly I see no reason not to believe them.)

68 min: Brilliance from Albrighton, who hugs the touchline on the right and roars down it at speed. Kolarov is as late as you like, flipping Albrighton in the air, the skillet to the Villa player's egg. Howard's got that one right!

71 min: Dzeko checks back while scarpering down the right and swings a delicious cross into the Villa six-yard box. Tevez tries to get a head on it, but can't get anywhere near the ball.

73 min: Johnson has a chance to skidaddle down the right, but cuts inside and lays off to Tevez, instead, whose elaborate chip forward in the vague direction of Yaya Toure floats harmlessly out of play. City are running out of ideas here.

76 min: Dzeko takes a wild hack from 25 yards. The shot is deflected wide left for a corner. From the set piece, the ball finds Johnson, to the right of goal on the edge of the area. The winger attempts to send a screamer into the top left. He isn't that far away, but it doesn't stop the Villa Park crowd mocking and braying. City aren't enjoying themselves at all.

78 min: Finally some determination from City. Johnson twists and turns and makes it to the byline down the right. He pulls the ball back into the centre for Tevez, who shoots only to see Collins block his effort at close range. Tevez claims for a penalty, but nah.

80 min: Is it too early to say City's season is as good as over if they don't turn this one around in the next ten minutes? They'll be three behind Manchester United with 180 extra minutes on the clock.

82 min: In the last ten minutes, City have enjoyed 84% of the ball. Much good it's done them.

84 min: CITY HIT THE POST! De Jong creams a low shot goalwards from a central position, 25 yards out. The ball's going into the bottom-right corner, but Clark, falling backwards, deflects the shot to the right using the bones of his arse. It's quite an effort. The ball squirts off the bottom of the post and away. "Small point, this, but worth bearing in mind when trying to assess Tevez's character," writes Scott W. "In November 2006, while playing for West Ham, Carlos left the ground early after throwing a strop because he was substituted. Hammers boss Alan Pardew allowed his players to dictate the player's punishment - a donation of half a week's wage to charity, and a training session spent in an Brazil shirt. Tevez paid the money, but refused to play in the shirt. Maybe City's third strip really is one of the reasons this fussy, principled man is reportedly so unhappy at Eastlands."

85 min: Finally City are looking dangerous, but it's probably too late. First Dzeko heads Johnson's right-wing cross wide left of goal from close range when it was surely easier to score. Then a shot from (I think) De Jong, cutting in from the left, is deflected and nearly sent into the unguarded right-hand side of the Villa net. But City have no luck.

87 min: Albrighton sashays down the right and slips the ball into the centre for Young, who should have slid in to score from close range, but guides the ball wide right of the goal instead.

88 min: Reo-Coker replaces Petrov.

89 min: This is just a lot of hectic hacking and slicing now. City need to get their foot on the ball and create, but with time now a real factor, they once again look totally incapable of doing so.

90 min: There will be three added minutes of this.

90 min +1: Villa are in total control here.

90 min +2: Birmingham lost 5-0 today, Villa fans may care to recall. Manchester City fans may be less pleased to consider Blues' victors.

FULL TIME: Aston Villa 1-0 Manchester City. And that's it. City were nothing short of appalling. But Villa will take heart from this deserved victory, especially as their £24m man is a £24m hero. One word of caution, though, from Niall Mullen: "Beware, Villa fans, of Ged's comments after this game. As a Liverpool fan I remember many corners turned, blessings in disguise etc. Only to find the same old turgid rubbish being churned out the next week. By Salif Diaou. With Litmanen on the bench."

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