Back to back defeats for Newcastle United as Manchester City cruised to victory at the Etihad to move back to the top of the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
We had a big chance through Chris Wood early on – who headed straight at Ederson from a Saint-Maximin cross – and were punished for that miss moments later when Sterling tapped in to make it 1-0.
Some poor handling from Dubravka then allowed Laporte to tap in from close range before the break and more goals followed in the second half, as a Rodri header and 90th minute strikes from Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling helped City to a 5-0 win.
It was a tough watch – as it often is when we travel to the Etihad – but if you combine moments of Man City brilliance with missed chances at one end and defensive mistakes at the other, it’s never going to end well away to one of the best sides on the planet.
They taught us a lesson. We’ve come a long way in a short space of time under Eddie Howe and can look forward to an exciting summer soon, but this was a reminder of the gulf in class between midtable sides and those at the top.
Were we on the beach? I don’t think so. A lot of energy and effort has gone into our remarkable turnaround over the past few months, so it’s no real surprise that we’ve ran out of steam. We were just outplayed and worn down by a far superior side.
With Brighton, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Brentford all winning on Saturday, today’s defeat means we end the weekend in 13th – but still nine clear of the drop zone after Everton’s win at Leicester left Leeds in the bottom three.
STARTING 11: Dubravka – Krafth, Lascelles, Burn, Targett – Guimaraes, Longstaff, Joelinton – Almiron, Wood, Saint-Maximin.
SUBS: Darlow, Dummett, Schar, Trippier, Manquillo, Ritchie, Murphy, Gayle, Wilson.
Eddie Howe made THREE changes from the side that lost last Saturday, seeing Jamaal Lascelles, Sean Longstaff and Chris Wood replace Fabian Schar, Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Willock.
Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson were back on the bench, but Shelvey and Willock both missed out on our matchday squad with knocks.
We started the game well, setting up positively and creating the first big chance of the game. However, Chris Wood saw a free header go straight at Ederson after Allan Saint-Maximin did brilliantly to pick out the Kiwi. An ironic passage of play given what ASM had told the French press earlier in the week!
Believe it or not, we’d had more of the ball approaching the 15 minute mark, having 57% possession, yet there were a couple of lets off that went unpunished when Joao Cancelo and Aymeric Laporte both fired over after finding space in the box.
Sadly, it was third time lucky for the hosts a few minutes later as Cancelo got the run on Saint-Maximin, headed back across goal and allowed Sterling to tap in to make it 1-0.
We had the ball in the net just before the half hour mark through Wood, however it was rightly disallowed after the ball deflected off Joelinton from an offside position and into the striker’s path.
Bruno then went into the book for a late foul on Grealish that left England winger in a heap, leaving the blonde haired Brazilian walking a tightrope for the final 60 minutes.
A couple close shaves soon followed as City fizzed a few balls across the box to no avail, before a one-man counter attack from Saint-Maximin came to nothing after the Frenchman threatened to burst clear.
So, we were hanging on defensively against a fired up City side and trying to get forward when we could, although the latter was easier said than done when committing bodies at one end left us looking vulnerable at the other.
It’s a balancing act few sides find easy at City, however big mistakes are something you HAVE to avoid in games like this, making Dubravka’s contribution to City’s second a hammer blow just a few minutes before the break. He spilled a shot straight to Ruben Dias, whose effort then fell to Laporte to make it 2-0.
City were forced to make a change at the break as Fernandinho replaced Ruben Dias, but they came close to adding a third seconds into the restart after some dazzling footwork from Sterling found Jesus in the box.
The hosts weren’t playing with the same intensity in the second half, yet they had total control of the game, barely giving us a kick before Rodri headed in from a De Bruyne corner to make it 3-0.
Another poor goal to concede and some really poor marking from Krafth, who let the Spaniard get away from him all too easily before he fired home at the front post.
In truth, the second half wasn’t even a contest. Maybe Man City had sucked all of the belief out of this Newcastle side and yes they were in total control, but it was men against boys at times and another reminder of the gulf in class.
On a positive note, it was great to see Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier both come on with 25 minutes remaining, seeing our top scorer appear for the first time in 2022 and the England right-back return from that broken foot suffered in February.
We improved slightly after both came on, showing glimpses on the break and forcing one corner that Lascelles almost headed into Wilson’s path, however it was an end of season performance if I’ve ever seen one and a walk in the park for City at times.
A big chance came our way with just over 10 minutes remaining as Murphy – who replaced Almiron moments before – put Wilson through on goal, but Ederson was out quickly to smother our rusty number nine.
City then scored a fourth and a FIFTH in the final two minutes of the game as Phil Foden’s close range finish was followed by an emphatic strike from Raheem Sterling. More static defending and goals that sent us back to St James’ Park on the back of another battering at the Etihad.
Next up, our final home game of the season against Arsenal a week tomorrow.
Let’s hope we’re a little more up for that one!