The game was certainly not without incident, as both sides saw a defender red carded either side of half-time.
All three goals were scored prior to the dismissals, however, as John McGinn scored the joint fastest goal in the Premier League this season to start proceedings after just 21 seconds.
Tyrone Mings played a quick free-kick down the field for Ollie Watkins, who after a couple of touches, squared it to the Scotsman to slot home from inside the box on his left foot.
The shock lead did nothing to deter the North-East outfit, who showed their abundant class all evening, out-passing their hosts to the tune of around 700-300 passes.
It was quick passing that set up their equalizer too. After a spell of crowding the area and trying to make relentless pressure count, it was a moment where Villa got the ball up the field and pushed forward that paved the way for City to build a masterful passing drive down the field; taking advantage of gaps in the midfield and defense, before Phil Foden stroked the ball home from around the penalty spot on 22 minutes.
Rodri, who scored in the Carabao Cup Final against the Villans the year before, headed home a Bernardo Silva cross on 40 minutes to give the away side a deserved lead as they kept the pressure up.
Stones and Cash see red
John Stones was awarded a red card on 44 minutes after a VAR review made it clear that the England international had made contact with Jacob Ramsey’s knee in a high collision on the halfway line.
The referee, Peter Bankes, had originally given yellow for the foul, but was directed to the monitor and agreed with his assistant’s opinion from the booth.
Shortly before City’s second goal, Kyle Walker was lucky not to be called on a foul on Ramsey too as Bankes judged that the two crossed paths in a collision rather than foul play on the edge of the area. The outcome could have seen a similar colored card had he judged foul play for sure.
The man advantage allowed Villa to make some headway early in the second half, as Keinan Davis replaced Jacob Ramsey to go to a more traditional 4-4-2 and apply attacking pressure.
However, Matty Cash was booked twice in quick succession for rather unnecessary fouls on Phil Foden. He will miss Sunday evening’s match against West Bromwich Albion as a result.
Manchester City will be glad to have something positive to build on after a couple of bad weeks in which saw a Leeds loss in the league, a Chelsea loss in the FA Cup, and the Super League debacle of the last week. They were made to work for it up until Matty Cash’s red card, where they were able to conserve themselves and comfortably see the game out.
Villa will be buoyed by their ability to hit City on the counter early and handle the immense pressure that would have broken them a lot quicker and more severely in previous games. However, they continue to lack the ability to hold up possession in midfield and put their strikers in good positions from the middle of the pack.
A mid-table finish is now all but cast in stone, so it’s promising to see young players like Ramsey on the pitch against elite opposition, and Carney Chukwuemeka on the bench to give youth players the experience of being around the senior squad and potentially prove themselves in what will start becoming dead rubber games.