Gerrard ‘really proud’ as struggling Villa draw with champions Man City

Struggling Aston Villa finally gave their fans something to shout about after they played out an entertaining 1-1 draw with Man City tonight at Villa Park.

Man City started in their usual slick fashion and Kyle Walker really should have squared the ball to Erling Haaland to give the Cityzens an early lead, but instead, he choose to fire a wild effort over the bar.

Villa had to ride their luck defensively with the brilliant Kevin de Bruyne looking a constant menace, although they did spring a dangerous attack of their own which ended with Oli Watkins left-footed effort squirming just past the post.

Then five minutes after the break the inevitable happened. De Bruyne flighted a superb cross towards the back post and goal machine Haaland duly tapped home first time from close range.

Villa hung in the game though and on 74 minutes Leon Bailey would score an equaliser and send the home crowd wild. Young midfielder Jacob Ramsey did some fine work down the left before squaring the ball to Bailey who smashed a strike into the top corner from 14 yards out.

Substitute Philippe Coutinho would controversially have a goal ruled out for offside and Riyad Mahrez missed a one-on-one in injury time but ultimately the game ended all square.

Speaking afterwards under-fire Villa manager Gerrard was left beaming by his side’s display.

“I am really proud of the performance,” Gerrard told the BBC. ”It is a really strong, positive point against a world-class opponent. They have got so much quality throughout the team and a world-class manager.

“To go 1-0 down you are obviously fearing the worst but inside our dressing room today I said to the players that no-one on the outside gave us any hope or chance today, so we tried to use that in our favour for motivation and the players were highly motivated to try to take something from the game. We deserved something from the game.

“We set up to be more pragmatic. We wanted to take some space away. They have got so much quality up top and we wanted to nullify certain areas of their game. We did, we frustrated them for the majority of the first half and a lot of the second.

“What we didn’t do well enough in the first half was keep that ball a little bit better on the regain and hurt them enough, but we reacted really well to going a goal down.

“I thought Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey were sensational. They gave us energy and time to breathe, by keeping the ball and bringing us up the pitch.

“We certainly deserved to take something from this game with the way we set up and what we put into the game.”

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