Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Bent shines on Villa debut

Darren Bent

Aston Villa striker Darren Bent instantly repaid a slice of his £18million fee with the winner in a 1-0 victory over Barclays Premier League title chasers Manchester City.

The former Sunderland player broke the deadlock with his first clear-cut opportunity after 18 minutes at Villa Park.

City, with their £59million strike force of Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko, dominated for long spells but could not find a way past Villa's rock solid defence in which James Collins and former City centre-back Richard Dunne were outstanding.

Villa had a let-off after 16 minutes when an inswinging corner from Aleksandar Kolarov caused problems, but neither Dzeko nor Tevez could apply the decisive touch from close range.

After 18 minutes, Villa Park erupted when Bent converted his first chance for his new club.

Gabriel Agbonlahor found Ashley Young in space and his curling effort was parried aside by Joe Hart. But Bent was first to react to the rebound and slotted it into the corner of the net.

City tried to retaliate and Brad Friedel produced a fine save to tip Vincent Kompany's header over the crossbar from Kolarov's corner before former Villa captain Gareth Barry went close to bringing City level after 37 minutes when his glancing header slid past the far post from Jerome Boateng's threatening ball into the box.

Dzeko then got on the end of a corner from Kolarov, although he could not keep his header down, while at the other end, Hart was called into action to turn a dipping drive from Young away for a corner.

Collins produced a superb block to deny a Tevez volley as the game entered the final 10 minutes and Ciaran Clark deflected a 25-yard shot from Nigel De Jong against a post with Friedel stranded.

Dzeko headed wide from close range when it seemed easier to score, but City could not find the breakthrough.

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