London: The champions took a two-goal lead into the break, but a resurgent second-half performance from the hosts threatened to level things before the Ivorian secured all three points
Manchester City boosted their title credentials with a somewhat fortunate 3-1 victory over a struggling Newcastle side at St James’ Park.
After dominating the early stages of the match, the Magpies’ defence capitulated for the rest of the first half as City’s attacking players came to life. And the visitors eventually took the lead after some clever play between Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri left Sergio Aguero with a tap-in.
The champions found a second courtesy of a Javi Garcia header, but Alan Pardew’s men fought hard in the second period, and soon clawed one back through a Demba Ba header. The hosts pushed for an equaliser, but Yaya Toure sealed three points for the visitors with a goal against the run of play.
Pardew was forced to change shape from the side that faced Fulham last weekend, as James Perch stepped in for the injured Hatem Ben Arfa allowing Papiss Cisse to revert to a more familiar role partnering Demba Ba in attack.
The visitors made three changes from the Manchester derby, with Kolo Toure, Javi Garcia and Carlos Tevez all coming into the side and Mario Balotelli – who had a poor game against Manchester United last time out – not even named in the squad.
Newcastle looked likeliest to take the lead early on, with Cisse forcing Joe Hart into a fantastic save in the opening minutes of the match after a Danny Simpson cross found the Senegal international with space 12 yards from goal.
But it was the champions who took the lead, after a fantastic pass from Yaya Toure left Nasri one-on-one with Tim Krul. The Frenchman allowed the keeper to rush out of his goal before squaring the ball to Aguero, who tapped in to an open net.
A combination of fine play from City’s attacking players and poor defending from the Magpies saw Roberto Mancini’s men threaten to double their lead on numerous occasions. Two chances fell to Tevez, whilst Nasri struck the post and Aguero had an effort blocked on the line by Mike Williamson.
The visitors were eventually gifted a second, as a David Silva corner was met with a powerful header by Garcia. Santon was well-positioned on the post, but a lapse in concentration when trying to hook clear saw the Italian kicking at thin air, allowing the ball to roll under his foot and into the net.
Newcastle started the second half much like the first, putting City under pressure from the off. And they were soon rewarded for their efforts, as a poorly-cleared corner was flicked back in to the penalty area by Fabricio Coloccini. Aguero was playing everybody onside, and Ba – in acres of space – nodded the ball passed an onrushing Hart.
But it was the visitors who had the last laugh largely against the run of play, as Pablo Zabaleta dribbled into the box before finding Yaya Toure, and the Ivorian slotted the ball home through a sea of players to seal all three points for the Premier League champions.