(Reuters) -Manchester City breezed to a 2-0 home win over Newcastle United thanks to goals in each half from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres, a result that lifted them to fifth in the Premier League on Saturday.
On a rainy, cold night at the Etihad Stadium, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce started with a five-man backline but there was little his side could do to keep control of City's array of attacking talent.
The home side went ahead in the 14th minute when Gundogan calmly fired home Raheem Sterling's pass from close range after a typically patient and incisive build-up from Pep Guardiola's side.
With City dominant in possession throughout, it took until the sixth minute of the second half for Newcastle to register a shot on target, but all it did was provoke the hosts even more, and four minutes later they went 2-0 up.
A concerted attack that ebbed and flowed across the field ended when Newcastle defender Federico Fernandez could only deflect a cross from Joao Cancelo into the path of Ferran Torres, who scored with a simple finish.
Torres, who spurned a couple of other decent chances on the night, was replaced by Sergio Aguero in the 77th minute. He forced a superb save from Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow minutes after coming on, but there was to be no further goals as City coasted to victory.
While City's impressive performance moved them up to 26 points after 14 games, Guardiola remained cautious about the team's title prospects in what is turning out to be a topsy turvy season, with teams also having to cope with problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We are far away from the top. Last week we were 10th in the table, all the season is up and down. There are weird results for everyone, this season you have to be calm in the good and the bad moments," Guardiola, whose side travel to second-placed Everton on Monday, told reporters.
"That is the tempo we need to play. Today our positional game was perfect, unfortunately we could not score more goals but it is a good result and three more points.
"In 45 hours we have another game at Goodison Park ... tomorrow the players have to regenerate and prepare in one day. This pandemic puts us in an extreme situation, but that's how England likes it so we accept it."
Newcastle, who are 12th on 18 points, host league leaders Liverpool on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Pritha Sarkar)