A much improved performance from Newcastle United wasn’t enough to avoid defeat against the reigning Premier League champions as a Yaya Toure inspired Manchester City left St James’ Park with all three points after an entertaining encounter between the two sides.
It was a strange game to call. As a United fan I feel that we did enough on the day to get something out of the game. We pushed Mancini’s millionaires all the way and gave a good account of ourselves in front of the watching world. On the other hand I would guess City fans may feel that the game shouldn’t have been as close as it was after some profligate finishing from some fantastic first-half chances that really should have seen the home side dead and buried without any way back in to the match.
The home side started brightly and created the first chance of the match in just the second minute as Papiss Cisse prodded a right-wing cross towards goal goal forcing Joe Hart into a smart save low to his right. Mike Williamson then created another for Demba Ba who very nearly got on the end of his guided header only to be once again denied by Hart.
It’s said that if you want to take points against the top teams then you need to score when you’re on top. We didn’t and in the 10th minute we paid the price as Yaya Toure threaded a superb pass around Cheik Tiote and in behind Davide Santon for Samir Nasri who rather unselfishly squared the ball to Sergio Aguero leaving the Argentinian with the simplest task of passing the ball into an unguarded Gallowgate net.
Any early ascendency assumed by the hosts soon evaporated as City turned on the style in an attempt to extend the lead. Samir Nasri was chief tormentor as he put Santon to the sword and he very nearly extended the lead when he struck the post only for the rebound to fall to Sergio Aguero who saw Mike Williamson stick a leg out to clear his shot off the line. Carlos Tevez went close with a shot from outside the area which took a deflection wide of goal as City continued to threaten.
Newcastle couldn’t really get hold of the game and the best they could really muster was a long range effort from Papiss Cisse which flew harmlessly over Joe Hart’s crossbar.
At 1-0 at half-time you’re never out of a game, but the sucker punch came just six minutes before half-time after United had survived many a scare. David Silva drifted a corner in for Javi Garcia who guided his header towards the far post. Davide Santon looked to be on hand to clear the ball of the line, but he spooned his clearance and saw the ball ricochet into the back of the net off his standing leg. Many people will criticise Santon but it was just bad luck. The ball could just as easily have rolled off the outside of his leg and wide of the goal and I’d be tempted to look at those who were supposed to be marking Garcia, the main offender being Fabricio Coloccini who allowed Garcia to get ahead of him virtually unopposed.
Half-time: Newcastle 0-2 Manchester City
I got the sense it might be game over for United at 2-0 but they soon proved me wrong as they came out in the second half all guns blazing. Undoubtedly City sat back a bit, but we still caused problems and had the majority of the play as we tried to engineer a way back into the game.
Six minutes after the interval the hosts got the reward their play deserved as City tried to clear a corner which Fabricio Coloccini chased down only to return the ball into the box first time for Demba Ba who had the simple task of nodding the ball past Joe Hart who was caught off his line. 1-2 and game on!
Papiss Cisse could have brought us back on level terms just minutes later but he missed the target when he should have done better before Cheik Tiote and Vurnon Anita tried their luck and Ba shaved a post.
However with time running out City managed to exert some pressure which proved to kill the game off. United were unable to clear the ball and City danced around outside the area. Eventually the ball fell to Yaya Toure inside the penalty and he slotted the ball home through a series of despairing dives from United defenders and through the legs of Tim Krul. With just 12 minutes to play at that point it was game over.
United still didn’t give in and showed some of the fighting spirit witnessed last season with Shola Ameobi heading towards goal for Joe Hart to save comfortably, but whilst we pushed forward we were leaving ourselves exposed at the back and fortunately Sergio Aguero was unable to capitalise on our lack of defensive numbers.
Full-time: Newcastle 1-3 Manchester City
There is no shame in losing to Manchester City and we gave a good account of ourselves, but a good performance is little reward when it’s points we are so desperately in need of.
The attention will turn towards a relegation six-pointer with QPR next Saturday which won’t be an easy game. We upped our game today and need to do the same next weekend if we are to get three points from a team that have just broken their winless streak for the season.
Howay the lads!
Newcastle: Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon; James Perch, Cheik Tiote, Vurnon Anita, Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba, Jonas Gutierrez
Subs: Rob Elliot, James Tavernier, Shane Ferguson, Gael Bigirimana, Sylvain Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi
Manchester City: Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Matija Nastasic, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy, David Silva, Javi Garcia, Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez
Subs: Costel Pantilimon, Aleksander Kolarov, Joleon Lescott, Scott Sinclair, Karim Rekik, Abdul Razak, Edin Dzeko