Football: Villa spoil Man City's Bayern rehearsal
BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom (AFP) - Manchester City were brought down to earth in abrupt fashion on Saturday as Aston Villa stormed back from behind to record a rousing 3-2 victory in the Premier League.
A week on from their seismic 4-1 demolition of derby rivals Manchester United, City were bidding to move to the top of the table and they took the lead through Yaya Toure on the cusp of half-time.
Edin Dzeko restored the lead for Manuel Pellegrini's side after Karim Al Ehmadi equalised for Villa early in the second half, only for quick-fire goals from Leandro Bacuna and Andreas Weimann to snatch an unlikely victory.
It was a chastening turn of events for Pellegrini and City, who must now gather themselves for the visit of all-conquering European champions Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday.
A minor injury to Sergio Aguero saw Dzeko drafted into the City starting XI, but the visitors looked no less menacing as they swarmed forward in the first half.
Former Villa midfielder James Milner curled an early shot narrowly wide, Dzeko forced a reflex save from Brad Guzan and Samir Nasri saw a shot deflected a yard wide by Ron Vlaar.
Injuries to Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor meant Villa lined up in an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation, but they did see El Ahmadi bend a free-kick just over City goalkeeper Joe Hart's bar.
City were quickly back on the attack, however, with Aleksandar Kolarov drilling a shot wide, Ciaran Clark coming close to putting through his own goal and Toure seeing a shot cleared off the line.
The pressure finally told in the final minute of the first half, with Toure forcing the ball past Toure from a Nasri corner - City's eighth of the first 45 minutes.
Given City's recent form - the demolition of United having been followed up by a 5-0 rout of Wigan Athletic in the League Cup - the deluge looked set to continue in the second period, but instead, Villa equalised.
Bacuna slipped a subtle pass through to El Ahmadi and although he appeared to have strayed offside, the flag stayed down and the Villa midfielder planted a low shot into Hart's bottom-right corner.
The scores did not remain level for long, however, and a Nasri corner was once again the source of City's goal, with Dzeko bundling the ball home via his back.
From yet another Nasri corner, Alvaro Negredo came close to make it 3-1, only for the Spain striker's well-hit shot to be repelled by Guzan after Villa had failed to clear the ball.
It was to be a missed opportunity that City would come to rue, as Villa levelled with 17 minutes to play when Bacuna shaped a delicate free-kick over the visitors' wall and beneath the crossbar.
Just two minutes later the turnaround was complete, with Weimann racing onto Libor Kozak's flick-on to prod the ball past the advancing Hart and into the net.
City substitute Stevan Jovetic saw a shot saved by Guzan as the away side pressed for an equaliser, but Villa held firm.