Manchester City kept up the pressure on Chelsea and Liverpool at the top of the table by handing Steven Gerrard his first defeat as the Aston Villa boss on Wednesday.

Steven Gerrard tasted his first defeat as a Premier League manager as Manchester City ran out 2-1 winners at Villa Park on Wednesday. However, credit must be given to the home side for not giving the game up when they were 0-2 down at half-time and instead putting in an inspired performance only to fall short in the end.

Manchester City began the game in their usual manner, applying the pressure and looking likely to score first. They did just that as Ruben Dias found space just outside the box to guide the ball in the corner of the goal beyond Emiliano Martinez’s reach after Raheem Sterling sent in a hopeful cut-back.

Aston Villa had the moments they did not take full advantage of, and Manchester City punished them with a clinical counterattack. Fernandinho sent Gabriel Jesus free on the right-hand channel, and the Brazilian found Bernardo Silva free in the centre, with the Portuguese star’s sweetly struck volley finding the net. 2-0 Manchester City.

Manchester City were rattled early in the second half as Ollie Watkins wriggled free of Sterling and swept home his strike from Douglas Luiz’s corner. Villa then kept up the pressure trying to find an equaliser, and at one point, it looked like they might get it.

Carney Chukwuemeka had the best chance when Emiliano Buendia slipped a through ball inside the box. The youngster missed the opportunity to equalise from close range, hitting his effort straight at Ederson. The night ended with Manchester City holding on and securing the three points, which kept the pressure on Liverpool and Chelsea in the title race. Here is how the players fared as Manchester City beat Aston Villa.

Aston Villa

Emiliano Martinez: 5.5/10

Martinez stood up to some shots during the game, although he should have done better to stop Ruben Dias’s strike. For the one scored by Bernardo Silva, there was nothing he could have done. Otherwise, the Argentine was a sturdy presence in goal.

Matty Cash: 6/10

Cash was up to the task of stifling Raheem Sterling and overall, he had a good game defensively. His six ball recoveries are proof of that and yet, he allowed Sterling a moment of free run and the winger delivered with a hopeful cut-back for Dias to score.

Ezri Konsa: 5.5/10

Konsa was a known presence and kept things tight at the back despite Manchester City’s constant onslaught to find goals. He had a shout for a penalty turned down by Mike Dean in the second half.

Tyrone Mings: 7/10

Mings was a rock at the back, soaking up all the pressure Manchester City had to offer. He made several interventions to prevent dangerous attacks, and was a big reason why the opposition did not win by an empathic scoreline.

Matt Targett: 4.5/10

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Targett looked resigned to handling Mahrez during the game, which meant sacrificing his attacking output. He did find it tough going against the Algerian, although he gradually became comfortable in managing him.

Douglas Luiz: 7/10

Luiz thoroughly justified being picked for the first time under Gerrard. The former Manchester City midfielder made five key passes and got the assist for Ollie Watkins’s goal. The Brazilian kept Villa ticking and found a decent range of passing.

Marvelous Nakamba: 6.5/10

Nakamba was a problem for Manchester City, as the midfielder kept disrupting play for the opposition. He grew in the game around the second period, and coincidently, the team improved, keeping the pressure up. He made five tackles for his efforts.

John McGinn: 6/10

McGinn had an efficient performance, if not anything spectacular. He did a decent job in the final third and, barring one good ball into the box, there was nothing more to show.

Emiliano Buendia: 5/10

Buendia did have a few moments, although he was drafted in the side to give his team a different dimension while attacking. He almost provided a moment of magic by slipping the ball through for Carney Chukwuemeka, which the youngster missed from close range.

Ollie Watkins: 7/10

A physical display from Watkins, who kept troubling the Manchester City defenders. He got a good goal to his name early in the second half, which brought the tie back to life.

Leon Bailey: 3.5/10

Bailey’s loss of form and injury troubles continued as the winger failed to find any rhythm in the game before being hauled off with a hamstring injury.

SUBSTITUTES

Ashley Young: 4.5/10

A hard-working cameo from the veteran, who did fine in different positions, especially playing at left-back.

Carney Chukwuemeka: 5/10

Chukwuemeka missed a great chance to equalise after Buendia had slipped the ball through, as he hit it straight at Ederson from close range.

Morgan Sanson: N/A

Barring some sharp touches, there was nothing more to show from Sanson to get a rating.

Manchester City

Ederson Moraes: 7/10

It was not the sort of game when Ederson had nothing to do. On the contrary, he had plenty of saves to make and one vital stop from Carney Chukwuemeka with 15 minutes to play, which potentially stopped an equaliser and handed his team all three points.

Joao Cancelo: 6.5/10

Cancelo started at right-back on Wednesday and was equally as effective from there. Without any goals or assists to show for his cause, Cancelo quietly had a rather solid performance.

Ruben Dias: 8/10

Dias dealt with the pressure by the Aston Villa attackers well in the second period and kept things quiet after the hosts pegged one back. Dias gets a higher rating for scoring a goal, and what a strike it was from just outside the box.

Nathan Ake: 7/10

Defensively Ake was very good in handling the pressure Villa put during the game. He was drafted in the lineup as Guardiola plans a busy schedule from here on.

Oleksandr Zinchenko: 7/10

Zinchenko might sometimes get overshadowed by his more illustrious colleagues, but the Ukrainian always works hard and keeps his composure. He did some good work defensively, making four ball recoveries while also managing one key pass.

Fernandinho: 8/10

Guardiola’s decision to include two holding midfielders did not backfire. In hindsight, it looked perfect for bringing in Fernandinho, who was tremendous in midfield. He dominated the area and kept breaking up play before Aston Villa could advance in their build-up. He also played a key role in the buildup to the second goal.

Rodri: 8/10

Rodri’s performances are improving massively with every passing game, and the midfielder produced a colossal display in midfield against Aston Villa. Making five ball recoveries, the Spaniard was the deepest of the midfielders, screening the defence with absolute certainty.

Bernardo Silva: 8.5/10

A sublime display from the Portuguese, who was too hot to handle. Silva glided into the attacking third with ease. Villa had no answers for his moves, and he deservedly and rather superbly put a beautiful volley into the net, which was also the match-winner.

Riyad Mahrez: 6/10

Mahrez caused all sorts of problems in the final third with some neat touches and dangerous forays into the Aston Villa box.

Gabriel Jesus: 7/10

All three forwards caused menace for the Aston Villa defence, and Jesus, in particular, was superb. The Brazilian linked up play well and wreaked havoc with some well-taken shots.

Raheem Sterling: 8/10

A sharp display from Sterling, who tormented Cash with absolute certainty. He got the assist for the first goal as a reward for his work, and it does look like he will continue to play regularly. From a creative perspective, he played five key passes.

SUBSTITUTES

Jack Grealish: N/A

Grealish got a few minutes to mark his return at Aston Villa as a Manchester City player. He did nothing to earn a rating.

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