City was leading 1-0 over a spirited Villa side when from a short corner Kevin de Bruyne’s cross found its way into the net in the 65th minute to double its advantage.
It was not immediately clear if David Silva had got the slightest of touches as the ball beat Tom Heaton, with the Villa keeper also unsighted by Raheem Sterling, who appeared to be in an offside position.
A lengthy check by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) could not definitively rule if Silva had indeed touched the ball, which would have seen the goal ruled out for offside against Sterling.
To add to the controversy, Silva had gestured to on-field referee Graham Scott that the ball had touched him, while de Bruyne told BT Sport after the match that he also believed that to be the case.
Villa manager Dean Smith was less than impressed: “From what I’m led to believe it should have been disallowed because David Silva touched it and Raheem Sterling is impeding our goalkeeper, but we have to leave that to VAR,” he told BBC Radio.
To rub salt into the Villa wound, the Premier League later officially awarded the goal to Silva.
The in-from Sterling had given City the lead with a 46th minute strike, his 13th goal in 14 games, while Ilkay Gundogan added a clinical third against a then deflated Villa side.
Further gloss was taken off the City win when Fernandinho was sent off near the end for a second yellow card after a needless foul on Keinan Davis.
With City struggling for defensive cover his absence though a ban will hardly help the cause of Pep Guardiola’s team in the title defense.
Leicester sets new record
However, with its next Premier League match against Southampton, who were at the receiving end of a record 9-0 home rout by Leicester City Friday, the loss of the versatile Brazilian is unlikely to be keenly felt.
Leicester’s sensational victory, with Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy both grabbing hat-tricks, was the biggest away win in the top flight in history of English football.
It also equaled the biggest margin of victory since the Premier League was formed, held by Manchester United since 1995, a 9-0 home win over Ipswich Town.
It briefly lifted Leicester into second place in the standings, before Manchester City’s win over Villa, while Liverpool looks to extend its advantage again at home to Tottenham Hotspur Sunday.
Later Saturday, defending Bundesliga and Serie A champions Bayern Munich and Juventus were in action, both involved in tight title races this season.