BERNARDO Silva and Ilkay Gundogan struck late on as Manchester City maintained their title charge with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Aston Villa.
The hosts spurned a succession of great chances amid a relentless downpour at the Etihad Stadium but finally broke through with Silva’s spectacular strike 11 minutes from time.
The Portuguese rattled a powerful left-foot drive into the top corner from the edge of the area to pierce Villa’s admirable resistance.
Gundogan then wrapped up City’s sixth successive Premier League win from the penalty spot in the final minute after a handball by Matty Cash.
In all City racked up 28 attempts at goal and they had numerous other openings on a night when they missed having a specialist centre forward for most of the game.
Yet Villa deserved huge credit for acquitting themselves well on their return to action. Aside from an FA Cup tie in which they fielded a youthful side, it was their first game since New Year’s Day following a COVID-19 outbreak at the club.
They contributed to an entertaining game and had the occasional chance themselves, but it was a tale of their defence versus City’s attack and Pep Guardiola’s men ultimately prevailed.
City were still without self-isolating striker, Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, who recently had a spell out with coronavirus himself, was back on the bench. City now top the table here they share points with Leicester City but with a distinctive goal difference.