Manchester City 3 Aston Villa 1
Vassell comes back to haunt Villa as City climb to fourth
Tuesday 01 November 2005
Pearce described Vassell's blossoming partnership with Andrew Cole, who added a third in the 82nd minute to quash any prospect of a belated Villa recovery, as the Laurel and Hardy of the top flight, "they complement each other perfectly only without the humour". Yet City have plenty of reason to laugh these days, and not only at the malaise of their bitter rivals, with astute management, a potent attack and a productive youth system that honed three-quarters of their industrious midfield last night offering grounds for genuine optimism.
"I still think we can get much better," said Pearce. "I am reasonably pleased with where we are at the moment but with the run of play I still feel we could have been unbeaten this season and we know we can play much better."
Vassell may not have left Villa Park in a deal worth £2m this summer amid much acrimony, but he played with the intent and passion of a scorned striker here and was welcomed with several gifts by his former employers, beginning after only 210 seconds when Jlloyd Samuel headed the ball over his advancing goalkeeper Stuart Taylor and presented his old team-mate with the easiest of his five City goals this season.
It was a suitable Halloween moment for Villa manager David O'Leary, who must have anticipated the worst when his first-choice goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen injured his back in the warm-up and thus forced a debut upon the former Arsenal reserve.
Worse was to come for the visitors in the 26th minute when Cole and Vassell combined superbly for the latter to volley beyond Taylor after an exquisite chip from his strike partner who, after Liam Ridgewell had scrambled in a 65th-minute goal, made the contest safe with a deflected shot over Taylor eight minutes from time.
O'Leary insisted there were no excuses for the defeat. "We gifted Manchester City their goals and that has been the problem since day one this season. We are not good enough to give teams such a big advantage," he said, before going on to use the possible £64m takeover by the Comer Homes Group as a reason for his current problems.
"It has been a very unsettling period," he added. "Rumours and rumours, talk and talk, but we are not getting any information. I hope something happens or doesn't happen soon because it is very unsettling and it doesn't help you concentrate on the football side. The first I heard about it was on Sunday morning like everyone else. It could be exciting for the club, it depends what comes with it." A few new defenders would not go amiss.
Manchester City (4-4-2): James; Mills, Sommeil (Jihai, h-t), Distin, Jordan; Croft (Sibierski, 69), Ireland, Barton, Musampa; Vassell, Cole (Wright-Phillips, 85). Substitutes not used: Richards, De Vlieger (gk).
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Taylor; Delaney, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Samuel (Berger, h-t; Djemba-Djemba, 75); Milner, Davis, McCann, Barry; Moore (Bakke, 71), Phillips. Substitutes not used: De la Cruz.
Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).
Latest in Sport
Phil Hughes head injury: Cricket world reels as Australian opener fights for his life
Robin van Persie says it's 'still possible' for Manchester United to win the Premier League title this season, but admits it will be 'very hard'
Sam Wallace: Players of Suarez’s standing just don’t sign for clubs like Liverpool
Lionel Messi transfer news: Manuel Pellegrini dismisses £200m Manchester City move for Barcelona star as 'rumours and only rumours'
Manchester United named Premier League's loudest fans despite late push by Chelsea according to 'Smart Meter' app
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Halle Berry takes ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry to court for allegedly trying to make daughter look less African-American
- 4 Isis propaganda image showing 'abuse of Muslim woman by soldiers' is actually taken from Hungarian porn film
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services