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Ferran Torres plundered a hat-trick as Premier League champions Manchester City came from behind twice to edge a seven-goal thriller at Newcastle.
A much-changed City side with a Champions League final to come trailed 1-0 to Emil Krafth’s header and 3-2 from Joe Willock’s rebound following a missed penalty, with Joao Cancelo, Joelinton – from the spot – and Torres scoring in between at St James’ Park.
However, the Spain international levelled after 64 minutes and then won it two minutes later as a rip-roaring encounter finished 4-3 to the visitors.
Pep Guardiola’s men sit 13 points clear at the top of the table as a result, but Newcastle, who secured their top-flight status last weekend – helping head coach Steve Bruce claim the Manager of the Month award for April in the process – made life distinctly uncomfortable for them at times.
Guardiola sprang something of a surprise ahead of kick-off when he handed 35-year-old loan goalkeeper Scott Carson a debut for the club and a first Premier League appearance in almost 10 years, but he saw little action early on as the visitors dominated both possession and territory, although without threatening.
Gabriel Jesus volleyed just wide after Federico Fernandez and Paul Dummett got into a muddle under an eighth-minute high ball, and Torres stabbed an attempt past the post after Ilkay Gundogan and Cancelo had linked superbly down the left five minutes later.
With Gundogan, Rodri and Bernardo Silva conducting affair from the middle of the field, the Magpies were penned back deep inside their own half for extended periods, although it was they who took the lead with 25 minutes gone after Kyle Walker had blocked Joelinton’s shot out for a corner.
Jonjo Shelvey sent the set-piece to the far post where Krafth rose to power a header past the helpless Carson.
The keeper needed the help of the crossbar to spare his side further damage 10 minutes later after Shelvey’s free-kick had cleared both the defensive wall and his out-stretched hand, and Newcastle’s fortunes took a significant turn for the worse before the break.
First keeper Martin Dubravka was wrong-footed as Cancelo’s driven 39th-minute shot clipped Jacob Murphy’s heels and flew across him and inside the far post, and he could only look on in horror once again three minutes later when Torres dispatched a Gundogan free-kick with an imperious flick.
But it was Carson who was picking the ball out of his net for a second time deep into first-half stoppage time when – after a lengthy VAR check – referee Kevin Friend awarded a penalty for Nathan Ake’s clumsy challenge on Joelinton and the Brazilian smashed the spot-kick home to level.
The visitors continued to enjoy the great share of the ball after the break but were repeatedly let down by an uncharacteristic imprecision and it was Newcastle who created the more promising openings.
However, in a madcap four minutes, City fell behind and then surged ahead when, after Willock had netted the rebound after his 62nd-minute penalty miss, having been tripped by Walker, Torres levelled from Jesus’ cross and then completed his treble, following up as Cancelo’s shot came back of the post.
The champions appeared to decide the best way to prevent an equaliser was to simply not allow their opponents the ball while attempting to fashion a fifth goal, and in the event, they saw out time comfortably.