City in draw at Villa Park
Aston Villa 1-1 Man City Return to Main Page
04-04-04 Kate Symonds for get Your Kits Out at Villa Park
Distin's header was helped in by Robbie Fowler after Juan Pablo Angel had given Villa the lead in the first half.
The Colombian international, who only returned to England on Saturday after international duty, was on hand to head in Thomas Hitzlsperger's corner.
But City, with Nicolas Anelka and Fowler on the bench, continued to press and deserved their late equaliser.
After only three league wins since 1 November, City opted to partner Jon Macken and Paolo Wanchope up front.
For Villa, Darius Vassell was declared fit after recovering from the ankle injury he picked up for England in midweek.
He joined Angel up front, who started despite a gruelling 34-hour round flight to Peru for a World Cup qualifier.
Fit-again Steve McManaman, still seeking his first goal for City, made a good break forward after exchanging passes with Michael Tarnat but he sent a fierce shot wide.
Shaun Wright-Phillips cut inside Lee Hendrie but he was denied a shooting opportunity by a superbly timed tackle from Olof Mellberg.
Villa were struggling to impose themselves on the game, with only the pace of Vassell causing the visitors any problems.
But as City rued missed opportunities, Villa snatched an unlikely lead.
Hitzlsperger swung an inswinging corner to the far post where Angel was waiting to head home his 21st goal of the season.
City pressed again and Mellberg again came to the rescue with a tackle on Macken, who was setting himself to shoot six yards out.
At half-time, Villa boss David O'Leary elected to rest Angel and bring on Peter Crouch.
The former Portsmouth player was soon in the thick of the action and Sun Jihai had to come across and clear into touch as Crouch looked favourite to win a chase with David James to reach a through ball.
At the other end, City again threatened an equaliser but Sorensen was alert enough to palm the ball away from the Wanchope's feet ater he was released by Macken.
Moments later, Samuel put in a quickfire challenge to deny Wanchope after a cross from Tarnat had picked him out by the penalty spot.
Jihai became the first player to be yellow carded after 66 minutes for handball - and from the resulting free-kick Villa should have doubled their lead.
James failed to hold Hitzlsperger's blistering free-kick and the rebound fell to Gavin McCann eight yards out but he lofted his shot into the Holte End.
City assistant boss Arthur Cox, standing in for back injury victim Kevin keegan, finally let loose Fowler and Anelka after 68 minutes.
And City got their equaliser eight minutes from the end, Distin (pictued above and right) rising to meet Michael Tarnat's cross, with Fowler getting the final touch as the Sky Blues moved four points clear of the bottom three.
Aston Villa: Sorensen, De la Cruz, Mellberg, Johnsen, Samuel,
Hendrie, McCann, Hitzlsperger, Barry, Vassell, Angel.
Man City: James, Jihai, Distin, Dunne, Tarnat, Wright-Phillips,
Bosvelt, Reyna, McManaman, Wanchope, Macken.