Manchester City moved closer to the Premier League title with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa in their first match since the remarkable European Super League fiasco. (More Football News)
City were among 12 elite clubs signed up to play in a controversial new continental competition until its spectacular collapse on Tuesday.
They appeared to be suffering a hangover from the affair as John McGinn gave Villa the lead inside the first minute, though the impressive Phil Foden and Rodri ensured Pep Guardiola's men went in at the interval ahead.
City's hopes of victory appeared to suffer a blow when John Stones was dismissed before half-time, but Matty Cash saw red before the hour to level things up as the leaders sealed a win that moved them 11 points clear of Manchester United, having played a game more than their neighbours.
FULL-TIME | Back to winning ways!April 21, 2021
City got off to a dismal start, conceding their second quickest Premier League goal after just 20 seconds.
Stones failed to cut out Matt Targett's ball over the top, allowing Ollie Watkins to tee up McGinn for a low finish past Ederson from 10 yards.
The visitors pulled level after 22 minutes, Foden guiding home a controlled volley from eight yards after a sumptuous team move in which the England international played an integral role.
Bernardo Silva was the provider for Foden and the Portugal playmaker also laid on City's second five minutes before the interval, his lofted cross from the right headed past a flapping Emiliano Martinez by Rodri.
Villa were handed a lifeline a few moments later, though, Stones receiving his first Premier League red card for an ugly challenge on Jacob Ramsey, given after referee Peter Bankes had been encouraged to review the incident on the pitchside monitor.
Numerical parity was restored in the 57th minute, however, when Cash received a second yellow card for a wild lunge on Foden.
Villa rarely looked like scoring an equaliser after that blow as City became the first team to secure 10 Premier League away wins in a row on more than one occasion, Guardiola’s side winning 11 consecutive games on their travels in 2017.
29 - No player has scored more goals in all competitions before turning 21 for Pep Guardiola than Phil Foden (29 - level with Bojan). Special. pic.twitter.com/0qd2mkb72L— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 21, 2021
What does it mean? City's title charge remains on track
It has been a dramatic few days for City, with the European Super League saga following hot on the heels of an FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea, which ended their dreams of an unprecedented quadruple.
McGinn's early goal threatened to breathe life into the title race, but Manchester United's hopes of reining in their neighbours were snuffed out by half-time - City winning their fifth consecutive game over Villa with the minimum of fuss, despite Stones' best efforts.
Foden shines again
The England international continued his supreme recent form with another eye-catching display. No player on the pitch had more shots (three) or made as many key passes (three). Only Kevin De Bruyne (24) has been directly involved in more City goals in all competitions than Foden (23 - 14 goals, nine assists) this season, while only Ilkay Gundogan (16) has scored more.
23 - Only Kevin De Bruyne (24) has been directly involved in more goals in all competitions for Manchester City this season than Phil Foden (23 - 14 goals, 9 assists). Starring. pic.twitter.com/4DW7zZ6wfJ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 21, 2021
Stones endures nightmare first half
The 26-year-old has enjoyed a stunning renaissance this season, but he lapsed into his old ways here. His attempt to cut out Targett's pass for Villa's opener was nowhere near good enough, while his rash challenge on Ramsey - which resulted in City's first red card in the Premier League this season - was eye-wateringly high and late.
City will attempt to win their fourth consecutive EFL Cup in Sunday's final against Tottenham at Wembley. Villa, meanwhile, host West Brom for a midlands derby on the same day.