Premier League - Slick City end Newcastle run

Sat, 19 Nov 16:55:00 2011

Manchester City maintained their unbeaten start to the Premier League season and at the same time ended Newcastle United's with a 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Man City 3 Newcastle 1

An otherwise solid first-half performance from the Magpies was undone by a nightmare few minutes for Ryan Taylor as half-time approached. The full-back first conceded the penalty which Mario Balotelli scored and celebrated in his own inimitable style, before Taylor's poor control inside the box gifted Micah Richards the chance to score City's second.

Sergio Aguero then scored a spot-kick of his own in the second half before substitute Dan Gosling grabbed a consolation for the visitors in the closing stages.

The win sees City keep daylight between themselves and second-placed Manchester United in the table. Newcastle remain third, although Chelsea will overtake them on goal difference if they beat Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Newcastle looked good value for maintaining their own unbeaten start to the campaign as they set about stifling City better than any other side in England has managed this season. Their cause was helped by Roberto Mancini's decision to leave David Silva on the bench following his midweek trip to Costa Rica with Spain, and City certainly seemed to lack the playmaker's sparkle in the attack.

Newcastle's back line, led by the indomitable captain Fabricio Coloccini, refused to lose their shape as City dominated the possession. It took 21 minutes before either side had a significant effort on goal, Aguero firing over the bar after a neat turn on the edge of the box.

When goalkeeper Tim Krul was tested he proved a stubborn final obstacle, the Dutchman tipping Balotelli's header over the bar with great agility.

Joe Hart was himself called into action when, after Hatem Ben Arfa fed Demba Ba inside the box with a canny reverse pass, the England keeper got down low to deny the Senegal striker.

Ba then glanced a header from a corner wide, and Newcastle were soon made to rue those missed chances.

On 41 minutes, a rare loose ball inside the Newcastle fell to Balotelli, who shifted his feet quickly and struck a volley that struck Taylor on the arm. It may not have been intentional, but the arm was unnecessarily raised - a clear penalty.

Balotelli casually stroked the spot-kick into the bottom corner and marked his sixth league goal of the season by simply folding his arms and refusing to break into a smile.

Two minutes later City's lead was doubled when Taylor's interception of a pass bound for Richards was clumsy, and the City right-back pounced to rob him of the ball and beat Krul for his first goal in almost a year.

Newcastle, to their credit, did not give in, and after the break were far more effective in going forward. Ben Arfa, playing against City 13 months after breaking his leg in a collision with Nigel de Jong, was frequently impressive here. He ran across Vincent Kompany with the ball and ghosted between the City captain and De Jong before striking the foot of the post with his shot.

But any hope of a Newcastle fightback were ended on 71 minutes when Ben Arfa and Richards clumsily tumbled together in the box, and the referee awarded a second penalty. This time it was a different taker - Balotelli had already been substituted - but Aguero produced a carbon copy of the Italian's penalty to score his 10th league goal of the season.

A steady stream of substitutions somewhat knocked the momentum out of the game, but one of those replacements got on the scoreboard in the 89th minute.

Gosling registered his first league goal for Newcastle when he was well-placed to tap into the unguarded net following a collision between Hart and Ba.

That goal was no more than a consolation, but it says much for this current Newcastle side that this match was the first time they needed consoling this season.


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