By Rob Bishop
Villa crashed to a heavy defeat at the hands of Manchester City but had every reason to feel aggrieved after a controversial penalty award saw them go two-down in the 54th minute.
Trailing to a scrambled David Silva goal just before the interval, Paul Lambert's men were stunned when a linesman raised his flag to indicate an infringement following a City corner.
The decision appeared to be based on a handling offence by Andreas Weimann, although video evidence failed to show he had made any contact with the ball.
Villa's players protested vehemently but to no avail before Sergio Aguero converted the spot kick, and from that juncture it was all downhill.
Carlos Tevez netted a second penalty - this time after Barry Bannan handled - before Aguero grabbed his second.
And a Tevez tap-in completed a rout which had been barely imaginable during the opening period.
Not unexpectedly, Villa had to endure some early pressure, Tevez heading over from close range before Maicon volleyed powerfully across the face of goal to leave the visitors relieved that no City player was on hand to capitalise.
As the visitors began to take a foothold, though, Christian Benteke was unlucky to see his fierce shot hit Matija Nastasic just outside the penalty area before Vincent Kompany almost turned Matt Lowton's right-wing cross into his own net.
If Joe Hart had to react smartly to keep that one out, the England keeper did even better in the 19th minute.
Enda Stevens accepted a pass from Gabby Agbonlahor to deliver a cross from the left, and Benteke climbed above Nastasic for a header which was heading inside the left hand post before Hart clawed away for a corner.
Hart also did well to tip away the flag kick from Bannan before City went back on the offensive, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri cleverly setting up a shooting opportunity for Gael Clichy, whose stinging angled drive was pushed behind by Brad Guzan.
The keeper then held Nasri's well-struck half-volley, although Benteke and Agbonlahor both had shots blocked just outside the area in quick succession as Villa continued to show a competitive edge.
But in the 43rd minute, the visitors went behind.
Guzan made another good save to tip behinda low Tevez shot but Villa only half cleared Nasri's left-wing corner and in the scramble that followed, Silva eventually stabbed home from a couple of yards.
Guzan again came to the rescue when he kept out Silva's low shot with his feet, and City were again pressing at the start of the second half, Tevez firing narrowly wide before Ron Vlaar's superbly-timed sliding tackle denied Aguero when a goal looked certain following Silva's probing pass.
On 54 minutes, though, the home side doubled their lead. Weimann's arm was raised as he challenged Nastasic when a corner came over from the right although there certainly didn't seem to be any contact with the ball.
Villa's players were furious when a linesman's raised flag indicated a handling offence but a penalty was awarded and Aguero stroked the spot kick past Guzan.
There was no argument when Bannan handled as he slid in to challenge Silva in the 65th minute, allowing Tevez to convert City's second penalty, and three minutes later Aguero's angled drive from the right deceived Guzan as it flew inside the near post.
And although a Benteke shot hit a defender's legs, the home side made it 5-0 when Tevez tapped in Nasri's low cross at the far post.
Jordan Bowery was given his first taste of senior action for Villa when he went on as an 83rd-minute sub for Benteke, while another Villa sub, Brett Holman, was only just too high with a 25-yard rising shot.
Manchester City: Hart; Maicon, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy (Kolarov, 73); Silva (Sinclair, 76), Barry, Toure, Nasri; Tevez, Aguero (Dzeko, 68). Unused subs: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Lescott, Garcia.
Villa: Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens; Westwood, Bannan;Weimann (Homan, 62), Ireland (Albrighton 62), Agbonlahor; Benteke (Bowery, 83). Unused subs: Given, El Ahmadi, Delph, Baker.
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