Lescott sends Man City back to the top - Emirates24|7

Lescott sends Man City back to the top

Manchester City's Joleon Lescott celebrates after scoring the opening goal past Shay Given of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match at Villa Park on Sunday in Birmingham, England. (GETTY)

Manchester City moved back to the top of the Premier League as Joleon Lescott's goal clinched a hard-fought 1-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.

Roberto Mancini's side had surrendered pole position to Manchester United after their bitter rivals' 2-1 win against Liverpool on Saturday, but City underlined their determination to wrestle the title from Old Trafford with a gritty victory in freezing temperatures at Villa Park.

Lescott struck midway through the second half to lift City two points clear of United, while Villa are down to 15th place after their fifth defeat in their last seven home matches.

City dominated for long spells and England winger Adam Johnson went closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half when his long range effort hit a post.

Mancini's men had won just one of their last six away games, but they ended that barren sequence thanks to Lescott's predatory effort in the 63rd minute.

Former Villa midfielder Gareth Barry headed David Silva's corner back across goal from the far post towards England defender Lescott, who kept his balance to direct his hooked shot past Villa goalkeeper Shay Given.

Villa almost snatched a late equaliser but Joe Hart made a superb save to deny Darren Bent from close range.

Earlier on Sunday, West Bromwich Albion piled on the misery for struggling Wolves as Peter Odemwingie's hat-trick inspired a 5-1 thrashing of their local rivals in the 'Black Country' derby at Molineux.

Roy Hodgson's team took the lead in the 34th minute when Nigerian striker Odemwingie sent in a tame shot from the edge of the area which trickled through goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey's weak attempted save.

Wolves equalised against the run of play through Scotland forward Steven Fletcher, who fired home from just inside the area on the stroke of half-time.

Albion regained the advantage in the 64th minute when defender Jonas Olsson fired goalwards. Hennessy should have saved easily but he allowed the shot to squirm over the line.

Odemwingie got the third in the 77th minute when he hooked in from close-range and former Wolves midfielder Keith Andrews rubbed salt into the wounds when his shot deflected home in the 85th minute.

Odemwingie sealed Albion's biggest win at their hated rivals' home since 1962 as he finished off a flowing counter-attack in the 88th minute.

Albion are now eight points clear of the relegation zone, while Wolves slump into the relegation zone, below 17th placed Blackburn on goal difference.

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy apologised to his club's fans, saying: "It's an understatement to say it's been a disappointing afternoon. It's been a terrible afternoon.

"It was an awful performance. I don't often do it, but I apologise for that."

Odemwingie added: "It's my first hat-trick in the Premier League, a very tough league to score in, so I'm very happy about that.

"And the extra bonus was that it was in the Black Country derby. We know this game means a lot to our fans so we're very delighted."

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