ANDREW VORCE - Friday, March 4, 2011
Michael Bradley earned his first start for Aston Villa but it was Brad Friedel that was beaten three times by Manchester City while Tim Howard and Everton crashed out of the FA Cup with a home loss to Reading.
Everton 0 - 1 Reading
Tim Howard and Everton were unable to finish any of their chances as Reading crept away win thanks to Reading captain Matthew Mills.
Everton had plenty of attacking opportunities but none found their way past Alex McCarthy. Reading's lone goal came in the 26th minute as the captain won the initial header from a corner kick only to receive it back after some slack defending. Keeping his cool in a crowd of players he chested the ball for control before striking his low shot through the defenders and past Howard.
Leighton Baines, Phil Neville, and Jack Rodwell were all booked for Everton while Zurab Khizanishvili and Mikele Leigertwood were booked for the visitors. Howard and company must get their act together as they travel to Newcastle on Saturday.
Manchester City 3 - 0 Aston Villa
Michael Bradley's first start for Villa came in a heavy handed away defeat as Brad Friedel was beaten three times on Wednesday.
The first goal came from slack defending and Aleksandar Kolorov's fifth minute corner kick hit off the hand of Ciaran Clark. Before a penalty could be called Yaya Toure swivelled on the spot to smash in the opener from inside the six yard box.
Toure turned provider in the 25th minute as he released Mario Balotelli into space past the Villa back line. Balotelli still had it all to do and his strike was impeccable as the Italian side-footed his half-volley perfectly into the upper left corner leaving Friedel absolutely no chance.
David Silva sealed the deal for City in the 70th minute after picking up the ball on the edge of the area. Villa poorly defended a deep cross in and their half cleared chance fell straight to the feet of Silva. Taking a touch to settle the unmarked front man struck his shot sweetly across the face of Friedel from distance.
Balotelli was booked for City while Gabriel Agbonlahor, Clark, and Stiliyan Petrov were all booked for Villa. The squad will likely be reshuffled as Villa take on Bolton on Saturday.