Manchester City stroll to victory against Aston Villa but late Fernandinho red leaves Guardiola frustrated

Three second-half goals helped Manchester City stroll to a comfortable 3-0 victory against Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium.

Despite controlling the opening exchanges, City missed their chances while the Villans almost scored through John McGinn and Douglas Luiz.

But the hosts came roaring back through Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan, but Fernandinho’s late red card will have left Pep Guardiola frustrated.

And the result meant the reigning Premier League champions cut down the gap between themselves and league leaders Liverpool to just three points - having played a match more.

READ MORE: Manchester City will be 'OK' despite Fernandinho absence - De Bruyne

City almost found themselves in front early on after some nice link up between Sterling and David Silva, Gundogan’s deflected shot found its way to Gabriel Jesus - who duly swivelled and struck an effort just wide of the far post in the fifth minute.

It was the hosts with the initiative, but Villa were looking to threaten on the counter throughout the opening half with Jack Grealish and McGinn posing an ominous risk.

Sterling gave Manchester City the lead seconds after half-time. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)
There were question marks as to whether De Bruyne's cross was turned in by Silva. (Photo by Manchester City FC/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Joao Cancelo’s left-footed drive from the edge of the box was kept out by Tom Heaton, before McGinn almost put the newly-promoted side ahead.

The Scotland international won the ball and cut inside John Stones before curling a left-footed effort towards goal which was kept out by Ederson.

Former City man Luiz ran on to the rebound but could not convert - despite claims for a penalty.

It was the hosts who were enjoying the majority of the ball but again Dean Smith’s men almost took a shock lead when Trezeguet picked up the ball in space on the edge of the box, only for a desperate John Stones tackle to deny him.

The most gilt-edged opportunity of the opening half though fell to David Silva. Sterling found space down the left and pulled the ball back towards the Spaniard, who slid the ball wide of the goal.

But 28 seconds after the break, the hosts were in front. Sterling, picking up the ball from Jesus’s header, slotted underneath Heaton.

It was the start of an uncomfortable half for Villa - who still have not conceded in the opening 45 minutes away from home - and they could have been two goals behind in the 55th minute when newly-capped England international Tyrone Mings had to clear off the line.

Gundogan showed his quality by scoring the third with a scissor kick. (Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
But Fernandinho's late red card will have left Guardiola frustrated. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Bjorn Engels’ woeful clearance ricocheted off Sterling to Jesus, who had the freedom of the penalty area to fire at goal. The Brazil international took his time and fired.

Although Heaton got a hand on the ball, it required a last-ditch clearance from Mings to keep the tally down to just one - but not long after, the second and third goals followed.

De Bruyne put any doubts to bed in the 65th minute. The Belgium international picked up the ball on the left following a short corner, and bent a wicked ball towards goal which seemed to fly straight in.

David Silva made a play at the delivery as Sterling - potentially blocking Heaton’s view - sought to avoid it but it was deemed the former Chelsea man’s strike and upheld after VAR scrutiny.

Almost immediately after, City made it three. A goalmouth scramble by the visitors saw the ball cleared as far as Gundogan - who ran onto the ball 12 yards out and directed the ball into the net with a scissor kick.

The game began to fade as a spectacle, as City brought on Phil Foden and Sergio Aguero to rest their stars. There was still time, though, for Brazil’s Fernandinho to be handed his marching orders in the final minutes.

Jesus then hit the bar with an audacious lob before McGinn’s late drive was deflected onto the post as the depleted City defence maintained their clean sheet.

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