Bernardo Silva has scored four goals in his past seven Premier League appearances
Bernardo Silva scored one of the goals of the season to help Manchester City beat Aston Villa and inflict Steven Gerrard's first Premier League defeat as a manager.
It was a fourth league win in a row for Pep Guardiola's side, one that keeps them second in the table, one point behind leaders Chelsea.
Silva showed world-class technique to side-foot volley Gabriel Jesus' dropping cross into the roof of the net from just inside the area, after City ripped their hosts open with a rapid break.
That sublime strike doubled the visitors' advantage before half-time, with Ruben Dias the unlikely source of their opener when he curled into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Villa have renewed resolve since Gerrard's arrival though, and Ollie Watkins replied immediately after the interval with a neat strike from a well-worked corner routine.
But the hosts were unable to find a leveller and Gerrard, having won his opening two games in charge, dropped points for the first time in the Villa dugout.
Jack Grealish was brought on as a late substitute to make his first return to Villa Park since a £100m summer move, greeted by a mixture of boos and applause from the home crowd that once adored him.
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Depleted City show their qualityRuben Dias scored his first Premier League goal for Manchester City since February
City boss Guardiola said before his side's trip to Villa Park they were facing a player "emergency", but there was still an abundance of talent available to the Spaniard.
Top of the pile right now is Silva, the mesmerising Portuguese playmaker who made an astonishing piece of technique look outrageously simple.
Dias' opener was reward for City's early dominance and Guardiola could not help but smile when Silva nonchalantly volleyed in a second before the break.
The diminutive midfielder had time to bring Jesus' delivery down, but instead caressed it first time beyond Emiliano Martinez to finish off a lightning counter-attack that started in City's own box seconds earlier.
The hosts' early approach was to soak up City pressure and hit them on the break, but the loss of Leon Bailey to a muscle injury after half an hour impacted that plan.
Villa have lost all six of the previous games in which they trailed at half-time in the Premier League this season, but whatever Gerrard's interval message was worked almost immediately.
They took the game to the champions, with Watkins steering in Douglas Luiz's corner within two minutes of the restart, much to the watching Prince William's delight.
That roused the Villa Park faithful and 18-year-old Carney Chukwuemeka went close to levelling, only to be denied by City goalkeeper Ederson.
Villa had rolled out the claret and blue carpet for returning hero Grealish beforehand, with Gerrard saying he would be welcomed back and the club tweeting "thank you for the memories".
He had to settle for a short cameo, having not played since 3 November for City, but the England international's return will help to ease Guardiola's injury concerns.
The victory also brought up Guardiola's 150th win in the Premier League with Manchester City, and he has reached that landmark in 204 games - faster than any other manager in the competition.
Player of the match
Bernardo SilvaBernardo Silva
with an average of 7.64
- Aston VillaAston VillaAston VillaMan CityManchester CityManchester City
Aston VillaAvgSquad number11Player nameWatkinsAverage rating
Squad number7Player nameMcGinnAverage rating
Squad number33Player nameChukwuemekaAverage rating
Squad number6Player nameDouglas LuizAverage rating
Squad number1Player nameMartínezAverage rating
Squad number2Player nameCashAverage rating
Squad number19Player nameNakambaAverage rating
Squad number5Player nameMingsAverage rating
Squad number4Player nameKonsaAverage rating
Squad number8Player nameSansonAverage rating
Squad number18Player nameYoungAverage rating
Squad number3Player nameTargettAverage rating
Squad number10Player nameBuendíaAverage rating
Squad number31Player nameBaileyAverage rating
Manchester CityAvgSquad number20Player nameBernardo SilvaAverage rating
Squad number3Player nameRúben DiasAverage rating
Squad number26Player nameMahrezAverage rating
Squad number27Player nameJoão CanceloAverage rating
Squad number9Player nameGabriel JesusAverage rating
Squad number31Player nameEdersonAverage rating
Squad number16Player nameRodriAverage rating
Squad number11Player nameZinchenkoAverage rating
Squad number6Player nameAkéAverage rating
Squad number25Player nameFernandinhoAverage rating
Squad number7Player nameSterlingAverage rating
Squad number10Player nameGrealishAverage rating
- Line-upsMatch StatsLive Text
- 1Martínez2Cash4Konsa5Mings3TargettSubstituted forChukwuemekaat 67'minutes7McGinn19NakambaSubstituted forSansonat 77'minutes6Douglas Luiz31BaileySubstituted forYoungat 31'minutes11Watkins10Buendía
- 8Sanson12Steer16Tuanzebe18Young21El Ghazi30Hause33Chukwuemeka39Davis41J Ramsey
31Ederson27Cancelo3Rúben Dias6Aké11Zinchenko16Rodri25Fernandinho20Bernardo Silva26Mahrez9Gabriel Jesus7Sterling
- 31Ederson27Cancelo3Rúben Dias6Aké11Zinchenko16Rodri25Fernandinho20Bernardo Silva26Mahrez9Gabriel JesusSubstituted forGrealishat 87'minutes7Sterling
Referee:Mike DeanAttendance:41,400Match StatsHome TeamAston VillaAway TeamMan CityPossessionHome35%Away65%ShotsHome9Away17Shots on TargetHome3Away7CornersHome4Away11FoulsHome8Away12Live TextPost update
Match ends, Aston Villa 1, Manchester City 2.
Second Half ends, Aston Villa 1, Manchester City 2.
Foul by Rodri (Manchester City).
John McGinn (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt saved. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Morgan Sanson (Aston Villa).
Substitution, Manchester City. Jack Grealish replaces Gabriel Jesus.
Attempt missed. Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) header from the left side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Douglas Luiz following a set piece situation.
Foul by Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).
John McGinn (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) header from the left side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by John McGinn following a set piece situation.
Foul by Fernandinho (Manchester City).
Morgan Sanson (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Hand ball by Rodri (Manchester City).
Substitution, Aston Villa. Morgan Sanson replaces Marvelous Nakamba.
Ederson (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa).
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Ederson.
Attempt saved. Carney Chukwuemeka (Aston Villa) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Emiliano Buendía with a through ball.
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