After last weekends disastrous performance at Wembley against Arsenal, more than a few pundits were expecting Manchester City to come unstuck again today as they made the always difficult trek to Newcastle.
And they left St. James Park with all three points after David Silva gave the defending champions the lead in the 38th-minute when he made the most of Edin Dzeko’s intelligent back-heel. City fans will feel they were good value for the points after creating the better chances, although the result remained in doubt until Sergio Aguero scored in added time to secure the 2-0 win. City’s movement and passing were characteristically impressive, their finishing less so, although Newcastle were unable to work City goalkeeper Joe Hart to any real extent despite enjoying their fair share of possession.
City seemed determined to put last weekend’s performance behind them and they ripped into their hosts from the first whistle and might have established a commanding lead within the opening 11 minutes.
Goalkeeper Tim Krul had to be at his most alert to keep out Dzeko’s close-range second-minute effort after Steven Jovetic had played him in over the top with a delicately lofted pass, and the Dutchman was in action once again nine minutes later. Samir Nasri and Aleksandar Kolarov played a long-range one-two before the Frenchman teed himself up to unleash a rasping drive which Krul had to dive full-length to turn away.
But as they warmed to their task, the Magpies started to make an impact. Coloccini and central defensive partner Mike Williamson managed to get to grips with Dzeko and Jovetic to allow the men in front of them to prosper, although, while there were flashes from Cabella and Riviere and a series of surging runs from Moussa Sissoko, there was little of note to trouble Hart.
Cabella drifted a chipped 16th-minute effort over Hart’s crossbar and Riviere, who showed plenty of endeavour, but slightly less composure, scuffed wide from distance and blazed across goal when he might have done better. At the other end, Williamson denied Jovetic with a perfectly timed block, but the respite was temporary and City took the lead with seven minutes of the half remaining.
Coloccini and Williamson were both drawn to Dzeko as he chased down a long ball, and both were left stranded when he cleverly back-heeled it between them for Silva to exploit the space and fire left-footed past Krul. Newcastle responded in determined fashion immediately after the restart with Yoan Gouffran seeing two shots blocked in quick succession after Colback’s 50th-minute corner reached him beyond the far post, and Cabella scooped over under pressure from Sissoko’s pass.
Full-back Paul Dummett headed over after reaching Colback’s corner ahead of Hart, but it took a good block by Coloccini to prevent Jovetic from extending the visitors’ lead on the hour. Dzeko headed onto the roof of Krul’s net 25 minutes from time and Yaya Toure, who endured one of his quieter afternoons, floated a free-kick just over eight minutes later.
The Magpies threw caution to the wind as time ran down and substitute Ayoze Perez saw a shot deflected just wide of the far post before Sissoko blazed wastefully over at the death. But substitute Aguero wrapped up the win in stoppage time when, after Krul had blocked his initial effort, he stabbed the rebound home from close range.