BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero produced late moments of brilliance to earn Manchester City a 2-0 win over Aston Villa on Saturday, keeping the champions in touch with English Premier League leader Chelsea.
Toure dribbled to the edge of the penalty area in the 82nd minute and curled a left-footed shot past American goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who produced a string of second-half saves to keep Villa in the game.
Aguero, one of two City players to hit the post when the score was 0-0, rifled in a fierce shot from 20 yards in the 88th to ensure there was no way back for Villa, and guarantee the visitors a fourth win in seven matches in the defense of their title.
City provisionally moved to within two points of Chelsea, whose game in hand is against Arsenal on Sunday. City and Chelsea are widely tipped to challenge for the title this season.
Toure's first league goal will silence those who have criticized his contribution to City's cause this season after his stunning 2013-14 campaign, when he scored 24 times in all competitions.
"I'm not a machine," Toure said, "I'm a man. The most important thing for me is to try my best. I need to work harder and continue going."
It looked look City would drop points for a fourth time, as it could find no way past the goal frame or Guzan until Toure's goal.
Aleksandar Kolarov struck a deflected shot against the post in the first half, Edin Dzeko wasted two good chances, and City failed to turn relentless pressure in the second half into goals.
That was until Toure breezed through two midfielders and shot calmly past Guzan, with Villa's defense paying for dropping deeper and deeper.
Aguero scored his fifth goal of the campaign when he collected a pass on the edge of the area, and drove a low effort just inside the post.
"When we have just eight minutes to go, you are a little worried, but I trusted that one of those chances would be scored because we have important players to do that," Pellegrini said.
"I have told the players that in May you are going to win or lose the Premier League by just a point or so, so every one you drop on the way makes it more difficult. It is very difficult to recover the points against a team like Chelsea, and the only way to do it is to win every game."
Villa, whose strong start to the season has faded thanks to successive defeats to Arsenal, Chelsea and City, will be buoyed by the return of Christian Benteke after six months out with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The Belgium striker appeared as a second-half substitute.
"It was a big effort from us," Villa manager Paul Lambert said. "We defended strongly but they have quality all over the pitch, and we were dead all over the pitch by the end."