Manchester City claimed a sixth successive Premier League win as they beat Aston Villa 2-0 in a pulsating clash at the Etihad Stadium, moving top of the table for a couple of hours before Manchester United reclaimed the summit later on Wednesday.
It was a deserved win for City although their opener, scored by Bernardo Silva in the 79th minute, was controversial and angered Villa boss Dean Smith whose protest saw him red-carded.
City moved to 38 points, above Leicester City on goal difference, but United’s 2-1 win at Fulham lifted them up to 40 points, although they have played a game more than City.
After both sides had created plenty of openings and Joao Cancelo struck the bar for City, Silva provided the breakthrough with a brilliant left-footed finish after Rodri had robbed Villa defender Tyrone Mings.
Rodri had come back into play from an offside position before taking the ball off Mings and Villa manager Smith was sent off for his protests at the referee.
“It was a farcical decision. I’ve not seen a goal like that given. It needs to be looked at. I don’t think anyone in this stadium thought it was a goal,” said Smith.
The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) later clarified the rule, stating that because Mings had deliberately played the ball off his chest, Rodri, despite being in an offside position, had legitimately taken the ball.
City have now won nine straight games in all competitions as part of an unbeaten run stretching back 16 games.
Villa, who are 11th, had defended well and played enterprising football on the break in what was their first league match since New Years Day after a Covid-19 outbreak at the club had caused their games to be postponed.