Manchester City are now eight points away from winning the Premier League after fighting back from a goal down to beat Aston Villa 2-1, despite John Stones seeing red.
Villa took the lead after just 20.82 seconds through John McGinn’s sweeping strike, the second-fastest goal of the Premier League season, but City fought back through Phil Foden’s finish to a nice move (22) before Rodri glanced a header home after Emiliano Martinez missed his punch (40).
Stones, whose error had led to Villa’s opener, then saw red with the help of VAR after a late, high challenge on Jacob Ramsey (44), meaning he will miss the Carabao Cup final on Sunday against Spurs.
Villa had the numerical advantage for all of 13 minutes as Matt Cash received two yellow cards within three minutes (54 and 57), but neither side created much of note in the second period as City held on to win.
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It means if City and second-place Manchester United keep winning, Pep Guardiola’s side will be crowned champions for the third time in four years after their game at Newcastle on May 12. Villa stay 11th, seven points off the top seven but with a game in hand, having won just one in seven.
After the disappointment against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, Pep Guardiola made eight changes to his starting line-up with only Ruben Dias, Rodri and Gabriel Jesus retaining their places from the weekend.
It was a much more familiar looking team with Ederson back in goal, Dias reunited with John Stones at the back, and Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva as the attacking midfielders.
There was just the one change for Dean Smith and it was an interesting one – a slight nod to the strength of the opposition with the more defensively minded Jacob Ramsey replacing the injured Trezeguet.
The win settles any talk of an unlikely late title race, whereas Villa continue to struggle for form without their captain Jack Grealish. The Villa captain, currently out with a shin injury, was seen in deep discussion in the stands with England boss Southgate, who will have no doubt been concerned by an evening to forget for one of his starters Stones ahead of this summer’s Euros.
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