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City out as Agbonlahor helps Villa spring a shock

MANCHESTER, England (AFP) – Gabriel Agbonlahor scored twice as Aston Villa earned a shock 4-2 victory over Premier League champions Manchester City in the League Cup third round at Eastlands on Tuesday.

Mario Balotelli gave City a first-half lead but Gareth Barry’s own goal pulled Villa level just before the hour.

Aleksander Kolarov’s free-kick put City ahead once again but Agbonlahor broke through to score Villa’s second and force extra-time.

Charles N’Zogbia put Villa ahead in the additional period and Agbonlahor added his second with seven minutes remaining as City fell at the first hurdle in the League Cup for the second time in three years.

Roberto Mancini’s side have now won just two of their seven matches this season and have conceded 14 goals in that run.

City faced disruption even before kick-off when Jack Rodwell pulled up in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Joleon Lescott, meaning Mancini made 10 changes from the team held by Arsenal on Sunday.

Once again experimenting with a three-man defence, the hosts struggled to adapt in the early stages with Villa, who have won just once in the Premier League this season, cutting through them time and again.

Villa threatened when City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon pushed away a Agbonlahor shot, but Christian Benteke lifted his effort well over the bar.

Another good run from N’Zogbia produced another opening for Benteke, who drove well over the bar.

Karim El Ahmadi thumped a shot over from 25 yards as City continued to struggle to get out of their own half.

But City moved in front with their first real attack in the 27th minute.

James Milner had endured a torrid opening half defensively but he cut in from the right and played a clever ball into Italian striker Balotelli, who thumped his shot past Shay Given.

City applied plenty of early pressure in the second half, with Carlos Tevez, who had barely featured in the opening period, surging into the area only to be denied by a fine challenge from Ron Vlaar.

Other than a fine run from Agbonlahor, Villa had barely threatened after the break before pulling level.

Andreas Weimann’s 59th minute cross from the right bounced up off the turf and Pantilimon could only push the ball straight at Barry, with the ball deflecting off the England star into the top corner of his own net.

Kolarov restored City’s lead with a free-kick that curled into the top corner of Given’s net just five minutes after Villa had pulled level.

But City were punished again though when Agbonlahor swapped passes with Benteke and burst through the centre before finding the bottom corner with a neat finish.

Just six minutes into the added period Pantilimon did well to block Agbonlahor’s low shot but N’Zogbia was left with an easy finish.

And Villa were rewarded for their ambition late on when Marc Albrighton sent Agbonlahor clear and his shot looped up off Pantilimon and into the net.


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