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City 3 Villa 1.

The Vassell and Cole show was re-united last night and paid dividends as Villa were swept aside at Eastlands as we moved back into the top four with a comfortable 3-1 victory.
Despite probably not being fully fit, the return of Cole to me was the key and there was a definite air of confidence about our play which had lacked a little in the previous defeat at Arsenal.
In some ways Villa gifted us the game with an awful mix-up between JLloyd Samuel and Stuart Taylor which left Vassell to slot home with the game hardly five minutes in. The second was a beauty, with a deft cross from Mills (an oxymoron if I came across one) being beautifully controlled by Cole before he switched to his left foot to play in Vassell who struck a controlled and measured volley into the far corner for a 2-0 lead.
The strike pair again earned praise from Pearce following the game in which bizzarely he likened them to Laurel & Hardy; "They are a Laurel and Hardy partnership - they were made for each other. If you look at them individually, Darius gives us pace up front, which we were lacking last season, and Cole is clever in the hole."
I've seen certain Laurel & Hardy combinations in a Blue shirt down the years and it is perhaps somewhat harsh of Pearce to compare them to the erstwhile comedians but his sentiment is no doubt sound.
Pearce however was disappointed (perhaps a Laurel & hardy box-set to brighten his mood?) in the manner in which we let Villa get a foothold back in the game when Ridgewell bundled home to reduce the deficit; "I do understand that that happens in The Premier League at this standard, teams do get back into the game but we gave the ball away too cheaply but credit to the players, fantastic, well done, but we can get better."
Perhaps a better side than Villa may have been able to capitalise on this, especially when we looked a little rocky when Sommeill went off and Mills moved across into the centre with substitute Patrik Berger taking a hold of the game, but credit to City and we regained some composure and were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when Barton went down under a challenge from Mellberg, but Cole (with a helping deflection) killed the game to make it 3-1 late on.
Although Cole and Vassell will rightly steal the show thanks to their performance, I thought Croft looked sprightly and full of attacking invention in a rare start for him, Distin was again magnificent at the back - earning plaudits from David O'Leary, and bailed the team out on a couple of occasions with superb interceptions durings Villa's attacking spell, whilst Stephen Ireland surely produced the moment of the game (or season?) when Ronaldinho-esque he dragged back then flicked the ball into the path of Cole who dragged the shot just wide, where a chip finish would have been a candidate for goal of the season.
The views of Villa blogs on the game can be found at the following link.
Onwards to Fulham on Saturday then with all looking pretty rosy in the City garden at the moment. Meanwhile across town......