Verdict: Newcastle United 1 Manchester City 3
Goals: Carroll 72 min for Newcastle. Barry 2 min, Tevez 6, 81 mins for City.
City wasted no time in returning to winning ways as two goals in the opening six minutes set the blues on their way to a double over a highly competitive Newcastle side. Once again Carlos Tevez was the talismanic hero with an assist and two goals to seal the victory.
Tevez intercepted a poor pass from Krul and played in Barry who finished with a sharp shot between the Newcastle keeper’s legs. A couple of minutes later and another poor pass by the home side again saw our captain bearing down on goal.
The ball was played out to Milner who quickly returned it for Tevez to steer into the top corner. Two goals that showed the benefit of Tevez passing the ball rather than looking to do everything himself, as had been the case against Everton. Let’s hope Carlos continues to remember it’s a team game.
Despite the early goals, it proved a far less comfortable afternoon than the recent away victories over Fulham and West Ham. During the second half City were unable to get their passing game going and Newcastle repeatedly launched the ball towards Andy Carroll.
Kompany and Lescott stood up to a stern test from the Geordie striker. He may have scored one from a Joey Barton corner, but given the number of balls we had to defend, there cannot be too much criticism of our central defenders.
Jerome Boateng came in at right-back and had a difficult afternoon against Gutierrez. On the opposite flank, Kolarov was unimpressive, with over 20 passes going astray.
Both players need to take greater care with their passing and not be overly ambitious at times when retaining possession could take the sting out of the game. Newcastle’s midfield were keen to press, and too often our slack passing gave them encouragement.
David Silva was the honourable exception, while Gareth Barry continued his good form in the first half. In the second our midfield wasn’t able to impose itself on the game.
The resulting spectacle was a throwback to Mancini games of last season, where we would surrender territory, look to defend a lead and close the game out. Our passing stats were noticeably lower than in previous games, with Newcastle enjoying 60% possession.
Sitting deep with Carroll and Kevin Nolan around was a dangerous game and we nearly paid the price. At 2-1, Ranger nodded a cross down for Nolan to nip between Kompany and Hart. The resulting toe-poke sent the ball just wide and City were reprieved.
Moments later Tevez had the ball at the other end, played a neat one-two with Johnson and got lucky with a goal that took a double deflection. Out came the baby’s dummy celebration, on trotted Vieira and City were able to close the game out.
“We got the reaction we wanted after the defeat to Everton now we must perform like this again against Aston Villa.
“It was important to re-start with a win after not going top of the table before Christmas.”
Last time City played Newcastle, Andy Johnson came off the bench to win man of the match when we were struggling in the second half. He did well again here, and gave the side a lift which helped secure the vital third goal.
Prior to that, both Kolarov and Boateng were regularly conceding possession and free-kicks, enabling Barton to send dangerous balls into our box. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see both Richards and Zabaleta in the full-back positions against Villa.
The win against Newcastle moved us up to second place, for one night at least. To pick up yet another away victory is a superb achievement. With two upcoming home games, it’s vital we now get some victories at Eastlands if we’re to consolidate our top four place – and maybe make a bid for the title.