Bernardo Silva fired Manchester City to the top of the Premier League for the first time since August 2019 as his late strike inspired a 2-0 win against Aston Villa on Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola’s side found it hard work to pierce Villa’s stubborn defence at the rain-lashed Etihad Stadium.
Silva finally made the breakthrough with 11 minutes left with his first Premier League goal since July.
Villa boss Dean Smith was sent to the stands after a furious complaint that Rodri should have been given offside in the build-up to Silva’s goal.
Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty ensured City made it nine successive wins in all competitions as they extended their unbeaten run to 16 matches.
After a spluttering start to the season, City, last crowned champions in 2019, are hitting their stride at just the right time.
Plagued by defensive problems last season, they have been rock solid this term, conceding only once in the 11 matches John Stones and Ruben Dias have played together at centre-back.
The only worry for Guardiola was the sight of Kevin De Bruyne coming off in the second half with a possible injury after Kyle Walker limped off in the first half.
A significant coronavirus outbreak at Villa meant their first team had not played since they lost to Manchester United on New Year’s Day, with the club fielding a youth side for their FA Cup defeat against Liverpool.
Villa had only three days of training before facing City and put up a brave fight before fading at the end.