Aston Villa 0-0 Manchester City: Resilient performance helps Villans pick up valuable point
Joe Hart beats the ball away (photo: reuters)

Aston Villa remain winless since the opening day, but put an end to their seven match losing streak as new manager Remi Garde led them to a 0-0 draw against league leaders Manchester City.

Despite the visitors being the better side for most of the game, Villa did have their moments, and showed plenty of signs that things are likely to improve under the Frenchman.

Garde showed that he's not afraid to make bold team selections, by dropping Joleon Lescott and Jack Grealish from the side, and selecting all four of this summer's Ligue 1 signings to start.

Things certainly got off to a better start than against Tottenham Hotspur on Monday, mainly because the Villans weren't a goal down in three minutes.

Villans start with promise in Garde's first game

Although there were hairy moments, such as Aleksandar Kolarov's ball across the box somehow evading everyone, but Villa did enjoy some good moments in the opening period of the game. Carles Gil, Jordan Veretout and Idrissa Gueye were all looking lively, hoping to help Villa win the midfield battle, and the latter of those three struck wide from the edge of the box. 

However, you can't keep Manchester City on the backfoot for long, and they produced the first shot on target of the game, Kolarov forcing Guzan to push the ball wide with a powerful effort. That came minutes before Villa were handed a boost, as Wilfried Bony was forced off for Jesus Navas with an injury, leaving the Citizens without a recognised striker on the pitch.

League leaders begin to get a grip on the game

Raheem Sterling was looking lively, but nothing was quite falling for him in wild Villa Park conditions, and that bad luck continued when he failed to win a penalty, five minutes before half-time. Jinking onto his right foot inside the penalty area, Ciaran Clark appeared to trip the forward, but referee Craig Pawson signalled to play on.

If anything, that disappoitnment spurred Manuel Pellegrini's men on, as they began the half with renewed vigour, making things very difficult for Garde's men.

Brad Guzan was the hero just eight minutes into the second 45, as he made a wonderful save from Sterling. With Navas whipping the ball in from the right hand side, Sterling had what looked like an easy finish from six yards out, but Guzan was equal to his header with a marvellous save.

An even better chance for the visitors came along minutes later, but Guzan had nothing to do with their inability to score this time. Navas was again the provider, squaring the ball across the box for Kevin de Bruyne, who appeared to kick the ball into his standing foot, seeing the ball skid wide of the post.

Tactical change sets up dramatic finish

Against the backdrop of Fabian Delph coming on for his return to Villa Park, Garde was making changes of his own, and brought on Charles N'Zogbia for his first appearance since the FA Cup final in May. 

That added some spark to Villa's play, and set the game up for a fairly entertaining finish. And there was certianly some spark with a few minutes left on the clock, as the Villans missed one of their best chances of the 90, under controversial circumstances.

City had put the ball out due to N'Zogbia being down with a head injury, and it appeared as if Rudy Gestede was going to sportingly throw the ball back to 'keeper Joe Hart, after the visitors put the ball out of play so N'Zogbia could recieve treatment.

Gestede did this, but threw the ball back to Hart at an almight pace, and the England number one saw his touch go out for a corner, which the City players were furious with. Play eventually went on after a little scuffle, and Gestede flicked the ball narrowly over the bar from Veretout's resulting corner. 

The drama wasn't over then either, with time remaining for one more chance at the other end, in four minutes of stoppage time. Navas worked a corner short, and the eventual cross found Fernando free in the area, only for the Brazilian to see his header cannon back off the crossbar.

Remaining pressure in stoppage time was dealt with by the Villans, who claimed their first point in eight Premier League matches.

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