Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill had warned his players and the fans to keep the recent victory over Chelsea into perspective but even he must have been a little shell-shocked by how brutally the club was brought back down to earth by this defeat.

The English purists may have also been hoping that O'Neill's British starlets would beat Sven Goran Eriksson's United Nations side in a victory for supporters of the argument for home-grown Premier League talent. But they and the travelling Villa faithful were to be disappointed.

O'Neill chose to stick with the side who had performed so admirably in that 2-0 victory over Jose Mourinho's men at Villa Park a fortnight ago. Former England manager Eriksson, however, brought in former Villa striker Darius Vassell who has largely been out in the wilderness this season.

Birmingham-born Vassell's record of scoring goals against his former team-mates was no doubt the uppermost thought in the Swede's mind.From kick-off Vassell looked like a man on a mission as he tried to harrangue the Villa defence as if he had a point or two to prove.

Villa looked at the start a little like a side who were finding it hard to get going [2014] the international break no doubt having affected the legs and perhaps the minds of some members of the team.

Vassell, meanwhile, was linking up well with Vedran Corluka and twice won the ball wide on the left to threaten the Villa penalty area - only Martin Laursen managed to stand between him and a goal.

Villa then tried to force the pressure on the home side but Carew's first real chance was easily gathered by Kasper Schmeichel in the City goalmouth.

The last time these two sides met at Eastlands, Villa won 2-0 with Carew one of the scorers but this time the giant Norwegian seemed to be having a real problem with his finishing. He was guilty of squandering a number of chances and had perhaps his best in the sixth minute but again his shot was easily gathered by Schmeichel.

In the ninth minute Corluka launched a blistering shot from 40 yards. Although Carson dived the right way it ended up well wide of Scott Carson's upright.

On 17 minutes Laursen beat Mpenza but again the build-up was full of promise but came to nothing. A free kick floated into the Villa area by Martin Petrov found Vassell but as he tried to head the ball backwards it finished just wide of Carson's goal.

Now it was City applying the pressure and Michael Johnson - one of City's few home-grown players who cost next to nothing - found himself in acres of space but Carson stayed big in front of goal to deny the youngster with a fine save.

In the 21st minute Wilfred Bouma found Gareth Barry wide on the left and, with the offside flag staying down, at least a shot on target was expected but Micah Richards had tracked back to clear comfortably.

Villa then won a free kick which was flicked on by Carew to Gabriel Agbonlahor and, as Richards and Schmeichel became tangled up with each other, the Villa striker's effort bounced across the face of goal.

In the 26th minute the confident Barry won Villa a corner and again Laursen rose highest but the ball bounced off the back of his head and out of play.

There were appeals for handball from the City forwards against Barry although replays showed it bounced off his chest. Elano then threatened and again found Vassell but Mpenza was just short of getting a toe on the ball in front of the Villa net.

Early in the second half City's Michael Johnson shrugged off Laursen and Reo-Coker to link up in a nifty one-two with Elano. Johnson gathered the ball again and unleashed a shot which sailed past Carson, 1-0.

Ashley Young glanced a ball across City's goal and found Bouma and in turn Carew but again the Norwegian's header was wide.

Villa's Young found Agbonlahor in the box but the ball bounced off his chest. Young then whipped in a corner but Laursen sent it over Schemichel's bar.

O'Neill brought on Shaun Maloney and the tiny Scot might have had a plea for a penalty after beign brought down by Schmeichel.

Stiliyan Petrov replaced Nigel Reo Coker and Craig Gardner replaced Bouma, with Barry moving to left back. City almost stole a second goal after Johnson was denied by Gardner.