Stunning Foden hat trick gives Man City vital win over Villa

Phil Foden scored a stunning hat trick as Manchester City crushed Aston Villa 4-1 on Wednesday to keep their hopes of retaining the Premier League title very much alive.

Arsenal climbed above Liverpool to claim top spot on 68 points with a 2-0 victory over Luton Town and City are third, level on 67 points with Liverpool who can move back to the summit with a home win over Sheffield United on Thursday.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, NWSL more (U.S.)

"Obviously, I'm just loving my football at the moment," Foden told TNT Sports. "I'm just playing with a smile on my face and trying to help the team because I know I'm capable of scoring goals. And I think today I showed that. So I'm delighted."

City's victory was their first over a top-five team in the league this season.

"Something we've been struggling with this season to face the teams at the top -- beating Aston Villa 4-1 is not easy but we did it," Rodri told TNT Sports.

"We're there, we knew we had to do our homework. We did it and now we focus on the next game."

Phil Foden took the plaudits after his hat trick gave Man City victory overt Aston Villa.
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

City monopolised possession from kickoff and took the lead in the 11th minute when Rodri poked in Jeremy Doku's cross.

Villa silenced the home crowd, however, when 20-year-old Jhon Duran slotted into the far corner after a neat one-two with Morgan Rogers in the 20th minute.

With City's league-leading scorer Erling Haaland an unused substitute, however, Foden went to work, finding a gap in Villa's wall with a superb free kick just before half-time.

Rodri dribbled through Villa's defence before laying the ball off for Foden to claim his second in the 62nd minute and the 23-year-old completed his hat trick with a rocket into the top corner from 25 yards.

"This player has grown every single year I've been here," Rodri said. "He can score wherever. I'm so happy for him."

It was Foden's 21st goal this season for City across all competitions and the England international left the field to raucous applause and a standing ovation when he was substituted. 

Unai Emery's team remained fourth in the table on 59 points and still in contention for a Champions League place, although they have played one more game than fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur who are on 57.

Villa beat City 1-0 at Villa Park on in December, but have not won at the Etihad since 2007 and the score could have been more lop-sided as City had 67.4% possession and 11 shots on target to the visitors' three.

"We competed well until the first goal," Emery said. "They showed their power. They deserved to win. Manchester City now they are better than us and they showed it."

Neither Haaland nor midfielder Kevin De Bruyne played for City on Wednesday ahead of away games against Crystal Palace in the league and Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals.