Man City 2 Aston Villa 4 (aet): Gabby's double heaps pressure on Citizens
22:32 GMT, 25 September 2012
The new season gets no better for Manchester City. A faltering start to their defence of the Premier League title and a heartbreaking Champions League defeat in Madrid were on Tuesday night followed by an early exit from the only competition Roberto Mancini has yet to win in English football.
Defeat left City with just two wins from seven games in all competitions. Worryingly for Mancini, they have conceded 14 goals.
At the double: Agbonlahor netted twice
Man City: Pantilimon; K Toure, Lescott (Dzeko 74), Nastasic; Milner, Razak (Helan 106), Barry, Kolarov,; Suarez (Sinclair 62); Tevez, Balotelli.
Subs not used: Wright, Zabaleta, Evans, Scapuzzi.
Booked: Tevez, Razak, K Toure.
Goals: Balotelli 27, Kolarov 64.
Aston Villa: Given; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett (Lichaj 86); N'Zogbia, El Ahmadi (Herd 72), Delph, Agbonlahor; Weimann (Albrighton 66), Benteke.
Subs not used: Guzan, Baker, Bannan, Bent.
Booked: Delph, Vlaar, Albrighton, N'Zogbia.
Goals: Barry (OG) 59, Agbonlahor 70 & 113, N'Zogbia 96.
Referee: Phil Dowd.
No wonder the Italian was an unhappy
man, although his mood owed as much to a spat with Paul Lambert that
left the City boss feeling as though he is being victimised in England.
Lambert is by no means the first to fall
out with Mancini on the touchline. He joins a club that includes David
Moyes, Sir Alex Ferguson, Mark Hughes and Tony Pulis.
Some of them have complained at his knack of waving an imaginary card,
and it was Mancini's inquiry to the fourth official over a challenge by
Villa defender Joe Bennett that upset Lambert on Tuesday night.
Mancini denied waving a card on this occasion and suggested that Lambert
would not be so bold as to confront Ferguson at Old Trafford.
'I'm tired of some managers doing this,' said Mancini. 'Maybe they do it because I'm Italian. It's better that they shut up.
'I didn't say anything to him (Lambert). I asked the fourth official if
it was a yellow card without using my hands because I thought the
referee had left his yellow cards in the dressing-room.
Super Mario: Balotelli beats Vlaar and Lowton to fire home
'He came over every time. There are some managers like this. But when
they go to Old Trafford for example they never say anything.'
refused to take the bait. 'It wasn't a spat,' he insisted. 'I respect
him as a manager and an ex-player.'
Own goal: Barry (centre) gave his old club a helping hand
In fairness to Mancini, he made 11 changes to his line-up before having
to recall Joleon Lescott because Jack Rodwell was injured in the
But he still had access to 187million worth of talent and City finished
the game with Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko leading the
attack as they succumbed to a Gabriel Agbonlahor-inspired Aston Villa.
One for the future: Denis Suarez (right) started for City
City went ahead with just about their first effort on goal in the 27th
minute. James Milner swung a low pass in from the right and Balotelli
took control of the ball with one touch before turning to hammer it past
ex-City goalkeeper Shay Given.
Villa were level in the 59th minute when goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon
tried to punch Andreas Weimann's cross from the right but succeeded only
in diverting the ball straight at Gareth Barry. The former Villa
midfielder instinctively tried to control it but deflected it into his
Gimme Shelter: Mancini takes cover on a rainy night at the Etihad Stadium
Aleksandar the great: Kolarov puts City back in the lead
High hopes: City's Matija Nastasic is challenged by Christian Benteke
City were ahead again within five minutes when Aleksandar Kolarov
punished Ron Vlaar's foul on Balotelli on the edge of the box by
stepping up to send a trademark freekick swerving over the defensive
wall and inside Given's left-hand post.
Again Villa hit back, however. Agbonlahor played a neat one-two with
Christian Benteke and swept into the area unopposed before steering the
ball past a helpless Pantilimon.
Flashpoint: Lambert and Mancini clash
Tevez clipped the top of the bar with a freekick towards the end of
normal time but N'Zogbia fired into an empty net in the 123rd minute
after Agbonlahor's shot had been well saved, and then Agbonlahor surged
forward to score the fourth late on when his shot took a slight
deflection off Jeremy Helan and looped over City's Romanian keeper.
King Charles: N'Zogbia (second left) celebrates his strike in extra-time