ernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan finally ended Aston Villa’s resistance to send Manchester City to the top of the Premier League, before Manchester United visited Fulham.
In an enthralling end-to-end game, City and their visitors created, and spurned, chance after chance until a rocket from Bernardo and a penalty by Gundogan settled matters late on.
The game started to frantic fashion and Bernardo was denied what looked a certain opener after just four minutes, but his effort from two yards out was denied by Emi Martinez.
Up the other end, Ross Barkley and Bertrand Traore combined as the latter skipped into the area, past Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias, before being crowded out.
It was an encouraging start from Villa’s attack after almost three weeks without a game due to a severe Covid-19 outbreak, and the defence was equally impressive as Matty Cash and Matt Targett thwarted wave after wave from City.
City’s attack, without an out-and-out focal point again, bossed possession but struggled to find a way through, Phil Foden enjoying the best of 11 first-half chances by the hosts but never truely testing Martinez after Bernardo’s early effort.
The second half took a similar pattern, and Cancelo went the closest after tucking inside and bending a shot off the crossbar. On the break, Douglas Luiz tested Ederson twice from distance, but the keeper was more than a match.
Pep Guardiola turned to his bench on the hour mark, replacing Kevin De Bruyne and then Raheem Sterling, for Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez, as City turned up the pressure. Gundogan was unlucky to see his goalbound shot hacked clear by Tyrone Mings, and even more so seconds later when he missed the ball with the goal gaping at the subsequent corner.
City’s possession finally paid off just over 10 minutes from time. Mings was dispossessed by Rodri – who was coming back from an offside position – and finds Bernardo, who takes two touches and hammers the ball into the top corner for his first goal of the season.
Villa manager Dean Smith was furious on the touchline, claiming offside and was quickly sent from the stands by the referee.
Minutes latter and it was game over. Jesus’s header back across goal towards hit Cash’s hand and Gundogan made no mistake from the penalty spot.