Newcastle United 1-3 Manchester City: classy display from Mancini’s men
A game of two halves, dominated by either of the teams in each half, but eventually it was the reigning champions who walked away with a comfortable 3-1 victory to mark a start of a new positive spell. Mario Balotelli was not in the matchday squad, but this had absolutely no effect as the team which started did pretty well to churn out a good win.
Newcastle United: Krul – Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon – Perch, Anita, Tiote, Gutierrez- Ba, Cisse
Manchester City lined up in a 4-2-3-1 with Javi Garcia and Yaya Toure in the double pivot. Silva, Tevez and Nasri were in the attacking band behind Sergio Aguero. Newcastle United had many key casualties before the game, and were short of quality options in midfield. Alan Pardew fielded a hybrid between 4-5-1 and 4-4-1-1 shapes, Papiss Cisse being the man changing position from the wings into the no.10 role. Williamson started in defence for the Toon alongside captain Coloccini. James Perch played in midfield beside Cheick Tiote.
Newcastle from the word go aimed to knock the door of Joe Hart with long balls from deep. A couple of good chances for Ba were well defended by Hart. Anita hoofed in ball after ball near to the edge of the City box, this sent out a clear message to Mancini. Newcastle knew their opposition were a class apart compared to their makeshift midfield and it took only 10 minutes for the Manchester boys to get into rhythm. Though Pardew tried to match-up the numbers in midfield by playing Perch and asking Cisse to come inside to help out, they were left gazing as Yaya Toure and Co. took hold of the match. The Toon defence was playing a high line in order to push Aguero away from the goal, but it backfired rather very early on in the game.
Nasri, Tevez and Silva made clever runs, exchanging positions behind Newcastle players and one such run from Nasri, resulted in a simple tap in for Aguero. A passing showbiz followed the goal as an unmarked Yaya Toure found his attackers with ease in spaces around the Newcastle players. Their movement was sluggish and marking was poor as Man City players kept peeling away, creating spaces with simple precision passing. It was a half to forget for the men in stripes as Javi Garcia doubled the lead with an accurate header to the far post. Santon could have done much better with his effort to clear the ball off the line, but it summed up the Newcastle performance in the half.
Samir Nasri was taken off after he suffered a groin strain, and Kolarov came in to slot into the left wing. A couple more chances for Aguero and Tevez were seen out comfortably by Coloccini and Williamson. Superiority in midfield was the key as a low key display from the both Newcastle strikers left their team with less opportunities upfront. Yaya Toure marshaled the midfield as Silva and Tevez worked the channels along with runs from the fullbacks. Strong motivation was on cards for Pardew’s players as they were aiming to end their barren spell.
No changes from either manager at the half time break meant, Newcastle had a plan to dismantle the City midfield with the same personnel. And they did just that. This half belonged to Newcastle as they looked bright in possession. Cisse and Ba were holding the ball up and spreading the play, Cheick Tiote made forward runs as he motored up and down the field. There was a sense of urgency in their play and Man City players were struggling to keep up with the tempo. The substitution of Kolarov in first half restricted the movement in attacking third and Silva was stranded on the right wing with no proper support.
Demba Ba pulled a goal back after he was played onside in the aftermath of a Newcastle corner. It was game on from then and waves of Toon attacks followed. Perch stayed deep allowing Tiote to venture forward. Vurnon Anita was already occupying Yaya Toure and the involvement of Cisse overloaded the City midfield as Javi Garcia was left with too much work to do. Anita found his teammates around the box and was instrumental in prolonging the domination of Newcastle in the half. Kolarov remained isolated on the left wing as he had only 6 passes in his time on the pitch. He was taken off for Edin Dzeko as Mancini looked to recreate the good spell from the first half. Aguero dropped into the no.10 role and Tevez moved wide. Till now the Newcastle defenders had to deal with the runs of Aguero and Silva behind their line and were seemingly comfortable with containing aerial balls. Now they had a task on hand with the introduction of Dzeko.
Fluidity was back into the play of Mancini’s side and they were absorbing the pressure both from the home fans and their opponents on the pitch. Dzeko held the play and made good runs around the box, but the final nail in the coffin came from Yaya Toure who slotted in from 3 yards out, thanks to a Zabaleta cross. It was game over now as, Lescott was introduced for Tevez. Man City went to 3 at the back with Zabaleta and Clichy playing as wing-backs. Alan Pardew introduced Marveaux for Tiote before the third Man City goal. His contribution was significant in some of the attacks as he offered much more in terms of attacking than Tiote. Much of the Newcastle play came from the left side where Santon and Gutierrez were operating.
Set plays were a serious threat to Joe Hart’s goal but Javi Garcia made sure no corner or freekick met the head of a Tyneside player. Garcia was excellent throughout the match as he held up well when Yaya Toure ventured forward. He won aerial duels while defending corners and also in open play. Williamson did a similar job at the other end, blocking shots and winning aerial balls. Though his first half performance was not up to the mark, there was sense of sheer dominance in his play in the second half along with Coloccini. Man City broke in numbers in the final moments of the game as Newcastle searched for their second goal, but were unsuccessful in converting those into goals. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining game, and the best team took away the three points.
A good game of football all around. Poor set piece defending led to a goal for each side. Man City dominated the first half, Newcastle answered back strongly in the second. But Mancini had the last laugh as his substitutions were tactical and helped nullify the opponent’s strengths. Javi Garcia put in a standout performance and he is PIE’s man of the match.