Aston Villa battled to earn a point against Manchester City on Saturday with Leon Bailey’s stunning goal securing a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
Pep Guardiola’s side enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half but Villa stayed organised and switched on defensively to limit their threat and get to the half-time interval on level terms.
However, Erling Haaland broke the deadlock just minutes into the restart and there were fears that could open the floodgates and erode the confidence and belief that was building amongst the Villa players.
To their credit though, they responded well and while we showed a threat on the counter attack throughout, we grew in courage in the second half and eventually found a breakthrough to equalise as Jacob Ramsey found Bailey, who sent a left-footed shot flying past Ederson before he could react.
Philippe Coutinho thought he had given us the lead but the linesman had raised his flag early, and while Villa did ride their luck at times, Steven Gerrard will be delighted with the performance and result given our recent form and the pressure that was building on both him and the team.
Aston Villa player ratings vs Man City:
Emiliano Martinez, 8 – Made some crucial, superb saves throughout the game to deny Haaland in particular, and while he got beaten by the flight of De Bruyne’s cross for the goal, he was pivotal in keeping us in the game and putting us in a position to get something from it.
Matty Cash, N/A – Forced off after just 25 minutes with a hamstring injury as Gerrard confirmed that he’ll undergo an MRI scan to assess the extent of the blow.
Ezri Konsa, 7 – Sloppy in possession at times and perhaps could have been more alert to challenge Haaland for his goal, but ultimately he played a key part in our overall defensive performance to limit City as much as possible.
Tyrone Mings, 8 – A brilliant defensive display as he cleared danger on countless occasions both in the air and on the ground. Used his physicality and aggression well to defend Haaland, and while he needs to just keep it simple on the ball, he was a real leader at the back for us.
Lucas Digne, 7 – Much better defensively this time out as he stopped Bernardo Silva from having a bigger influence on the game and pushed forward whenever possible to give us width.
Douglas Luiz, 7.5 – A really composed and measured performance in midfield as his passing ability and technical quality made a big difference to our play at times when keeping the ball and building our own attacks. Particularly given the speculation that was swirling around over his future in midweek, he was focused on the task and important in the result.
Boubacar Kamara, 7 – Does a really important job of sweeping up danger in front of the defence and his ability to read the game and intervene not only breaks up and disrupts the opposition but it gives us a chance to move into attacking phases quicker.
John McGinn, 6 – Continues to lose too many 50/50 duels and just doesn’t have the accuracy or composure with his passing to have a big influence on our play. The weak link in our midfield again unfortunately and it was no surprise that he was replaced after 65 minutes with Villa looking better after that change.
Leon Bailey, 8 – Worked hard throughout and as a result looked tired by the end as he did his job defensively and was key in our counter-attacking strategy, but a great shift for the team off the ball and scored the all-important equaliser with a top finish.
Jacob Ramsey, 8 – A much better performance from JJ as he was key out of possession with his pressing and his ability to steal the ball high up the pitch. Should have done better with a chance in the second half where he was put through but couldn’t get past Ederson, but showed his quality with a bursting run forward shortly after as he found the perfect pass for Bailey to smash home our equaliser.
Ollie Watkins, 7 – A really positive shift from our lone frontman as his movement off the ball was important to give us options on the break, while his hold-up play was much better as he brought others into the game consistently. Went close to a goal of his own on a couple of occasions, but a really key display for the team.
Ashley Young, 8 – Brilliant off the bench after Villa were forced into an early change. Excellent defensive shift as he was winning battles constantly and kept things really tight on our right side with City having no joy. Also tried to get forward and give us some attacking quality too.
Philippe Coutinho, 6 – Should have had a chance to put us ahead with his effort that went in off the bar as although the City players stopped after the whistle was blown, replays showed he wasn’t offside in the build-up and so we’ll never know how that would have played out.
Emiliano Buendia, N/A