Manchester City have moved top of the Premier League, temporarily at least, after a 2-0 win over Aston Villa in a pulsating game at the Etihad Stadium that included a controversial opening goal.
Bernardo Silva finally broke Villa's resistance by scoring off City's 36th effort at goal before Ilkay Guendogan's penalty sealed a 2-0 victory that extended the winning run of the Premier League's form team to six matches.
An end-to-end match in which City lost Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker to injuries looked to be heading for a draw, despite the home team's dominance, when Silva received a pass from Rodri and smashed home a shot from the edge of the area in the 79th minute.
The goal was contentious because Rodri was returning from an offside position when he dispossessed Villa defender Tyrone Mings before releasing Silva.
No offside was given, though, with the officials seemingly feeling a new phase of play had started when Mings controlled the ball on his chest before being picked off by Rodri.
Villa manager Dean Smith was sent off for protesting against the awarding of the goal.
"I said to the fourth official, David Coote, 'Did you get juggling balls for Christmas?'" Smith said, explaining when he was shown a red card by referee Jonathan Moss.
"It was a farcical decision.
"I've not seen a goal like that given. It needs to be looked at.
"I don't think anyone in this stadium thought it was a goal."
Guendogan wrapped up the win in the 90th minute by converting a spot kick after Matty Cash raised his hand to block a goal-bound header from Gabriel Jesus.
The win lifted City above Leicester City on goal difference to the top of the league, although Manchester United can reclaim first place by beating Fulham later on Wednesday evening.
It was Villa's first league match since January 1, after which there was a coronavirus outbreak in the squad with the entire group only back in training since Sunday.
City are in their best form of the season, having won nine straight games in all competitions and unbeaten in 15.
"No one else has won five, six in a row but it's still the first leg of the season," manager Pep Guardiola said.
"A lot of games to do but the important thing is that the feeling is good."
Australian Associated Press