Remi Garde marked his Aston Villa debut with an invaluable Premier League point as they held on for a goalless draw against Manchester City at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon.
- Aston Villa 0 Manchester City 0
- Garde leads Villans for first time
- Bony taken off injured early on
- Guzan denies Sterling point blank
- Fernando hits bar in injury-time
Both teams enjoyed plenty of chances in the first half, although it was City with the far more clear-cut attempts, but Raheem Sterling was yet to find his shooting boots in a barren first half after missing a hat-trick of decent scoring opportunities.
Brad Guzan was then needed to keep the hosts level after 54 minutes as he somehow kept out Sterling's point-blank header, while Fernando's powerful header cannoned off the crossbar in second-half stoppage time as Villa held out for the draw.
However, the point was not enough to take the Midlands club off the foot of the table, but will go a long way to inspiring confidence under the new manager, while leaving City's Premier League lead vulnerable.
The Villans looked a different side under Garde to the one that had won just one of their opening 11 league matches prior to this weekend's kick-off, and controlled the tempo early on with some slick passing and probing down both wings.
However, it was the Citizens who created the first real chance after quarter of an hour, Sterling faking a shot to play the ball in behind for Aleksander Kolarov, whose low drive was unwittingly turned onto the post by Guzan.
Manuel Pellegrini was then forced into an early change as Wilfried Bony pulled up with a suspected hamstring strain, with Jesus Navas coming on in his place, and the Spaniard almost made an instant impact with a drilled delivery across goal, only to catch Sterling by surprise and ricochet behind for a goal-kick.
City looked destined to score nine minutes before the break as they countered swiftly after being given advantage following a foul on Kolarov, but Sterling was just robbed of possession in the area before going to ground, but the referee remain unmoved as Villa mopped up the danger.
The hosts then had a chance of their own from a free-kick in a really promising position, but Carles Gil got a little bit too much on his effort as the ball fizzed over the crossbar, leaving Villa still without a shot on target in the first half.
City started the second half like a house on fire and a string of chances culminated in what should have been the opening goal as Navas whipped in a brilliant delivery to pick out Sterling, but the England international was again unable to find the back of the net, this time seeing his header saved point blank by Guzan, who didn't know too much about it but still did enough to deflect the ball over with his face.
Villa created their best chance of the game just 20 minutes from time as Charles N'Zogbia outmuscled his marker before driving to the by-line and clipping an excellent delivery into the area, but Bacary Sagna bravely got there ahead of Scott Sinclair to head convincingly clear.
Garde's men were turning up the pressure in the closing stages and won a series of corners in quick succession, but they were unable to make the most of them as the City defence stood strong.
However, they were able to hold off a late barage from the visitors, including four minutes of injury time in which Fernando headed against the crossbar, to earn an important point which may not have taken Villa off the foot of the table, but at least gives the side plenty of confidence under Garde.