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Man City see off Newcastle to appease Mancini

News 15 Dec 2012, 20:56 IST

NEWCASTLE, United Kingdom (AFP) –

Newcastle United's Cheick Tiote (right) and Manchester City's Yaya Toure, Newcastle, England on December 15, 2012

Newcastle United‘s Ivorian midfielder, Cheick Tiote (right) vies with Manchester City‘s Ivorian midfielder, Yaya Toure at St James Park, Newcastle, England on December 15, 2012. City provisionally trim Manchester United‘s lead at the top of the Premier League table with their 3-1 win.

Manchester City won 3-1 at Newcastle United through goals from Sergio Aguero, Javi Garcia and Yaya Toure on Saturday to improve the mood of manager Roberto Mancini.

Mancini was an angry man after City lost at home to title rivals Manchester United in their previous game, sparking talk of rifts within the dressing room.

But, if there are problems at the club, they were not obvious at St James’ Park, and particularly during a first half when City were in scintillating form that warranted more than two goals.

Their failure to take other opportunities gave Newcastle a chance to gain a foothold in the game with a goal from Demba Ba — his 11th of the season — early in the second half.

But Toure’s goal made the points safe for City, underlining their determination to stay in the title race and adding to the relegation worries of Newcastle, who have now lost six of their last seven league games.

There was certainly a gulf between the two teams in the first half, apart from the opening minutes, when City were second-best.

City's defender Matija Nastasic (right) vies with United's striker Robin Van Persie in Manchester, December 9, 2012

Manchester City’s defender Matija Nastasic (right) vies with Manchester United’s striker Robin Van Persie (left) at The Etihad stadium in Manchester, north-west England on December 9, 2012. City provisionally trim United’s lead at the top of the Premier League table with a win at Newcastle.

Only two minutes had gone when Papiss Cisse’s shot was brilliantly turned away by the City goalkeeper Joe Hart.

It was a period of Newcastle pressure that clearly upset Mancini, who was soon on the touchline anxiously making changes to his team’s system.

He need not have worried. Once City settled down, the movement, pace and trickery of their frontmen cruelly exploited Newcastle’s immobile back four.

The visitors went ahead in the 10th minute and were in control to such an extent that they could have added three further goals in the following 10.

The goal was an excellent one. Toure created it with a superb through ball that sent Samir Nasri clear and, ignoring the chance to score, he slid the ball across to present Aguero with a simple opportunity.

Helpless on that occasion, Tim Krul, the Newcastle goalkeeper, soon did well to block a close-range shot by Carlos Tevez with an outstretched leg, then a cross by the influential Nasri just eluded the reach of two team-mates.

Krul survived again when Nasri hit the post and Mike Williamson did well to block the follow-up shot from Aguero.

Williamson, under fire from some Newcastle supporters recently, almost made City pay for their failure to turn superiority into goals with a volley that was saved by Hart in a rare Newcastle attack.

But, after a Tevez shot was diverted narrowly wide, City finally gave themselves a two-goal cushion in the 39th minute from the resultant corner.

Garcia rose well to win Silva’s corner, but Davide Santon really should have cleared the ball inside the far post, only to help it over the line with a miscued attempt at a clearance.

By this stage, Nasri had been forced out of the game with a groin strain, but City must have been convinced they were equipped to cope without him.

That confidence was soon eroded, though, as Newcastle started the second half on the front foot and pulled a goal back in the 51st minute.

Ba, who had fired a shot wide soon after the restart, was the scorer, heading in after Fabricio Coloccini hooked the ball back into the area.

Cisse went close to an equaliser with a 53rd-minute shot that narrowly cleared the bar and Ba could only find the side netting 11 minutes later.

It was a worrying time for Mancini, but City ended Newcastle’s revival in the 78th minute when Toure turned in a cross from Pablo Zabaleta to underline that there is still a long way to go in this title race.

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