City tightens grip on second place with win over Aston Villa

Manchester City strengthened its hold on second place in the Premier League on Monday after posting a 1-0 win over Aston Villa at Villa Park.

The Citizens entered the match in good form after topping Chelsea by a 2-0 count on Feb. 24, and Carlos Tevez's tally in first-half stoppage time was enough to push City five points clear of third-place Tottenham, which dispatched Arsenal at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

It was Villa, however, that was on the front foot early in the match as Christian Benteke got a clean header away following a corner kick, but it was cleared off the line to keep the game scoreless.

Manchester City responded with a chance in the 37th minute as Pablo Zabaleta controlled a deft pass from David Silva in the Villa penalty area and ripped a left-footed shot, but Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan got down quickly and tipped it off the far post to keep the sides on level terms.

City found the only goal of the contest right on the stroke of halftime courtesy of a massive gaffe by Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark.

Clark had trouble controlling a loose ball in the Villa half of the field and was stripped of possession by Edin Dzeko, who quickly sent a square ball to Tevez. Tevez took a touch to control, rounded the onrushing Guzan and easily slotted it into the empty net to give the defending champions the lead.

After the break, Aston Villa had several chances to find an equalizer as defender Matthew Lowton unleashed a wicked shot from outside the box in the 66th minute, but it curled wide of the right post.

The Villans fired five shots in the direction of the Manchester City net in the second 45 minutes and had a few good chances in stoppage time, but never found a tying goal to remain in the bottom three, stuck on 24 points from 28 matches.