Bellamy rescues point for Blues
Former City defender Richard Dunne nodded Villa ahead from Stephen Warnock's corner after 15 minutes when he outjumped Gareth Barry, who was booed on his return to Villa Park.
City levelled through striker Craig Bellamy on 67 minutes following a fine pull-back by Emmanuel Adebayor, who was returning from a three-match ban for violent conduct.
City moved on to 16 points, level with Tottenham Hotspur but behind the London club on goals scored. Villa are seventh.
Bellamy, who has scored four goals in his last five matches, came in for particular praise from City manager Mark Hughes.
"He gets bad publicity for a few of his past misdemeanours but he was outstanding tonight," Hughes told the BBC of the often controversial Welshman.
"He is very driven and ambitious and sometimes he is demanding of himself and everybody who works with him but if you create the right environment he responds and works well."
Hughes also praised the City fans for applauding Dunne, who left City for Villa in the summer after making 350 appearances and four times being voted the club's player of the season.
"The fans respected what he did in a blue shitrt and I was proud of what they did tonight," added Hughes.
Dunne did not celebrate when he put Villa ahead but played down his respectful reaction.
"I don't have a celebration. If I score it's usually a surprise," the Irishman told ESPN.