Birmingham, England, Feb 13: England defender Joleon Lescott preserved Manchester City's two-point lead in the Premier League by scoring a second-half winner in a 1-0 victory at Aston Villa on Sunday.
Lescott hooked in a far-post nod-down by Gareth Barry in the 63rd minute to settle a match City dominated at Villa Park.
Villa missed two great chances to equalize in a late rally, however, with an unmarked Carlos Cuellar heading over from six yards (meters) and Darren Bent's close-range effort drawing a fine reaction save from City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
With 13 matches remaining, City maintains its narrow advantage over Manchester United, with Tottenham five points further back in third.
"The guys played fantastic football. We had a lot of chances to score in the first and second half but the other team defended very well," said City manager Roberto Mancini.
City dominated first-half possession but only Adam Johnson's 25 yard strike gave Shay Given anything to worry about against his former club as it thundered against his left-hand post to leave the match level at the break.
A fast start to the second half saw Lescott make the breakthrough after Barry headed down a corner, before Given saved well from Sergio Aguero to prevent City moving out of sight.
Mancini's men then had a penalty shout when Aleksandar Kolorov's cross hit Alan Hutton's arm but referee Michael Oliver waved away City's protests.
An eventful last few minutes saw Cuellar head over from eight yards in Villa's best chance of the game, before Hart kept out Bent from point-blank range.
"This season is why they are talking about him (Hart) as the world's best, he is going to be around for a long time, and he's going to be England's No. 1 for a long time," Barry said.