Manchester City 2 Aston Villa 1
Villa's FA Cup dream was expunged for another year as they were beaten by Manchester City for the second time this season.
Goals from Georgios Samaras and Darius Vassell appeared to have given Stuart Pearce's men a comfortable ride into the quarterfinals of the FA Cup.
However, a late Steven Davis strike ensured a nervous finale, which saw Thomas Sorensen in the hosts' penalty area before Villa's FA C up participation was brought to an end.
Despite a gallant last 20 minutes, which saw Villa set up camp in Manchester City's half, the hosts were worthy winners and David O'Leary is left to contemplate Premiership survival.
Injuries to Milan Baros and Patrik Berger only compounded Villa's misery and once again showed the threadbare nature of O'Leary's squad as he could pick from only 15 players.
Villa's failure to deal with set-piece situations once again haunted O'Leary as Manchester City's decisive goal from Vassell arrived from a corner.
The Villa manager now faces a tough task to lift his weary troops for the fixture at Everton on Saturday after their second consecutive defeat on the road.
Villa, who were already deprived of Juan Pablo Angel (ankle) and Lee Hendrie (sickness), were dealt a further blow in the pre-match warm up.
Berger was set to make his first appearance for O'Leary's side since October 31.
The Czech international sustained an Achilles tendon injury prior to kick off, which meant that Luke Moore was promoted to the starting lineup and Villa were left one man short on the bench.
Villa had never previously won an FA Cup tie at either Maine Road or Eastlands.
Nevertheless, they refused to allow the body blow of losing Berger to affect them and began in positive fashion.
In fact, they should have taken the lead after four minutes when a sublime Gareth Barry pass set Steven Davis racing clear through the heart of the hosts defence.
He was confronted by David James on the edge of the penalty area and cleverly rolled the ball into the path of Milan Baros.
The summer signing dragged the ball back on to his right foot and dallied with the open goal gaping in front of him.
Eventually he tried to chip into the net but his effort was blocked by Micah Richards and cleared.
The hosts responded with a wave of attacks and Samaras spurned two presentable opportunities before breaking the deadlock with his third attempt.
Olof Mellberg was beaten far too easily to a routine ball in the channel and Samaras cut in menacingly from the left wing.
His first shot was beaten out by Thomas Sorensen. But it only rebounded to the Greek international who coolly slotted home.
Both sides were adopting an expansive style, but it was the hosts who possessed the sharper edge.
A Stephen Jordan cross just eluded Joey Barton before more slipshod defending afforded Trevor Sinclair a gilt-edged opportunity five minutes before the interval.
Aaron Hughes and Liam Rdigewel failed to deal with a routine clearance from Villa's corner and Darius Vassell stole possession and freed Sinclair 25 yards from goal.
The former England winger was unmarked and bore down on Sorensen, but Villa's goal-keeper manged to divert the low drive to safety with his right boot.
But Villa's relief turned to despair inside 60 seconds as Baros was left prostrate following a crunching tackle by Richards and escorted down the tunnel by physiotherapist Alan Smith.
A tough task was beginning to look even more arduous and Villa's hopes receded further three minutes into the second half when Vassell doubled the hosts' advantage.
It was the third goal Vassell has pouched against his former employers in as many games this season and cut deep into the heart of Villa's travelling support.
Barton's low cross from his partially cleared corner caused havoc before being scrambled clear to Albert Riera on the edge of the area.
His low drive hit Vassell two yards from goal and looped into the empty net to send the City of Manchester Stadium into apoplexy. It was a hammer blow and visibly deflated Villa.
That was City's tenth effort on goal while Villa only had Baros' effort to show in reply. The away supporters chanted "Can we have a shot?" and Villa looked an outfit shorn of belief. Yet they dug deep and gained a stranglehold on the game which was rewarded when Davis scored five minutes from time. A punt from Sorensen reached Moore whose first time pass freed Davis and he slid the ball past James from close range.