Barclays Premier League
Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester City

 

 

Demba Ba is wrestled off the ball by scoring hero Yaya Toure (left) and Gareth Barry (right) in the second half


 

By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from St James's Park
 


YAYA Toure was the difference between the sides as Manchester City all but secured their first Premier League title with an important victory at Newcastle.

The Ivorian midfielder, sent further up the pitch in the second half, was the hero with a scoring double in the final 20 minutes - first bending a terrific effort into the bottom corner past Tim Krul before finishing off a counter attack a minute from time.

City came through a tough test unscathed to leave them within touching distance of the title with victory over Queens Park Rangers at home next weekend required to confirm the inevitable now.

United closed the gap of three points when they faced Swansea City later in the day at Old Trafford, winning 2-0, but it wasn't the massive goalfest that was ideally required to keep feint hopes alive with City's goal difference considerably superior.

Both sides were unchanged from their previous games as Cheik Tiote was passed fit for Newcastle after needing eight stitches to a head wound when clashing with John Obi Mikel in their midweek 2-0 victory at Chelsea - which boosted their chances of Champions League football for next season. Danny Simpson failed a fitness test meaning James Perch began again at right-back.

City, who handed the Magpies their first defeat of the season in their 3-1 win at the Etihad in November's reverse fixture, brought boyhood Sunderland supporter Adam Johnson onto their bench with Mario Balotelli left out altogether in the only alteration to the matchday squad from the derby day victory over rivals United on Monday night. Gareth Barry lined up for the 100th time in the Premier League for the club while Pablo Zabaleta continued at full-back, keeping Micah Richards on the bench.

Before the game, a ceremony took place outside the ground to unveil a new statue in memory of former Toon Army manager Bobby Robson, who managed the club between 1999 and 2004 but died of cancer in July 2009. Among those in attendance were Robson's three sons, his widow Lady Elsie and current boss Alan Pardew with members of his backroom staff.

The pitch was in prestine conditions as both sets of players were raring to go with Newcastle straight from kick-off attacking with a forward foray. As City got back into it, the home side were making it difficult for the league leaders to settle as a little anxiety crept in with the support of around 52,000 fans in good voice expecting a result.


? DID YOU KNOW ?

The victory for Manchester City ensures they are unbeaten now in their last eleven league meetings with Newcastle United.


City began to assert themselves on the game, however, Newcastle's unit stayed firm with Yohan Cabaye and Mike Williamson blocking efforts from the edge of the box by Samir Nasri - who was involved in the 4-4 draw here last season with Arsenal - and Toure.

The two teams - led by captains Vincent Kompany and Fabricio Coloccini, who were named in central defence for Premier League team of the season - visibly showed the nervousness early on of the pressure on them to get a positive result to achieve their aspirations for the campaign.

As the game wore on, Mancini's men were seeing more of the ball with even the likes of Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba being forced back to help out in midfield to stem the City flow.

Aguero forced Krul into action, checking inside and going for the low route to goal with a shot which the goalkeeper did well to hold onto with Tevez close to him.  

Newcastle, playing in their final home game of the season with Everton away next weekend to finish off, had glimpses in the final third in the first half with nothing for Joe Hart to do in the opening 30 minutes.

Ba, who had failed to score in his last 12 starts, saw his effort from 25 yards on the spin travel narrowly over the crossbar after good work from Cisse to get away from Joleon Lescott on the far side.

At the other end, Krul kept out a stinging Tevez free-kick. A couple of cynical fouls were occurring with the tackles flying in. Tiote received a caution for hacking down Silva from behind when advancing towards the penalty box, while Barry intentionally barged Cabaye over once the ball had gone right under the nose of referee Howard Webb to get his name taken.

City's feathers were indeed ruffled for the very first time in the final stages of the first half in a good spell for the hosts which saw Ba's shot blocked by the back of Gael Clichy but the rebound falling to Hatem Ben Arfa, whose volley forced Hart to make a superb reaction save with Jonas Gutierrez involved in the build-up.

The hosts escaped extraordinarily in a melee up the field minutes later when Silva's cutback found Barry whose inital sidefooter was stopped by Coloccini before his second effort was cleared off the line by the retreating Santon while there was more last-ditch defending in an attempt to get the ball away.

It was the best opportunity of the half with midfielder Barry, who opened the scoring after two minutes in the fixture here last season which City won 3-1 on Boxing Day, twice foiled in the space of five seconds somehow didn't score.


? DID YOU KNOW ?

Newcastle, despite the defeat, have still won seven of their last nine games in the Premier League including four of the last five at home.


The even contest continued into the second period but the moment that changed the game was the change of tactic from Mancini with the introduction off the bench of Nigel De Jong to replace Nasri with Toure moving further forward.

The Dutchman de Jong was given a hostile reception, continually booed for the challenge which broke Ben Arfa's leg in City's 2-1 victory over the Magpies last season not forgotten by the passionate Geordie faithful at the Gallowgate End.

Ben Arfa showed signs of promise on the right with Ba picking him out on this occasion before the Frenchman dropped his shoulder, but his wild shot missed the target.

It was an open and entertaining match with City increasing the tempo in search of the three points they came for and they made the breakthrough on 70 minutes.

De Jong threaded the ball into the path of Toure on the edge of the box, the Ivorian then played a one-two with Aguero before bending a terrific effort into the bottom corner with fantastic precision for his eighth Premier League goal of the season.

Aguero astonishingly passed up the chance to double his side's lead and score for the thirtieth time this season when he controlled a ball over the top instantly but slid the ball the wrong side of Krul's post from a City perspective when one-on-one with the Newcastle goalkeeper.

Cisse, whose 13 goals in 12 games before this one has made him a worthy wearer of the famous number nine jersey on Tyneside, flashed a header wide from substitute Shola Ameobi's stand-up as the home side piled men forward in search of the leveller.

Only splendid goalkeeping by Krul kept the match in the balance as Yaya Toure ran through and only had the keeper to beat but stumbled at the vital moment while Aguero's follow up was somehow turned over the bar by the Dutch shotstopper.

Dzeko, without a goal since netting against Blackburn in February, wasted a headed opportunity from the resulting corner while at the other end Richards threw himself infront of a goalbound Ameobi volley after a punt forward by Ryan Taylor.

Newcastle, who started the game in fifth place level on points with Tottenham who were in action against Aston Villa, demonstrated their fighting spirit however City wrapped up the win with a minute of normal time remaining through a patient but swift counter attack of their own.

Cabaye presented Aguero with possession and the visitors picked the right options simply and effectively with a inch-perfect pass by Clichy into the feet of Toure, who finished calmly from a couple of yards.

Hart still had work to do in keeping out Ba and Ameobi's long-range shot in stoppage time but it was Manchester City's day and one of emotion for their long-standing followers.

A legend of the club's past Mike Summerbee even shed a tear or two from the stands at full-time, showing just how much it means and what it feels like to be so close to glory.

It was 1968 when City last won a league title secured through victory in the North East against the Magpies and now 44 years on this victory could have the same everlasting effect.

It's a defeat that dented the Toon Army's bid for third place after Spurs' draw at Villa Park but fourth place is still a realistic possibility with Chelsea in action in a tough match at Anfield on Tuesday and Arsenal slipping up against Norwich City yesterday. For City, it is the brink of a first Premier League title with United away to Sunderland next week hoping for an unlikely slip-up.

 

ANALYSIS
Adam Higgins
The Football Site- Chief Football Editor

"Newcastle put in a great performance which they can certainly be proud of. On another day it will have been different but it is Manchester City's moment. They are one win away from their first Premier League title and it means so much to their supporters. In truth, if they do go on to win the league then they have deserved it for being the best team. They have come through a tremendously tough match with a 2-0 victory which is a mark of champions especially at this pivotal stage of the season. Yaya Toure was exceptionally good and the decision to move him further forward was key to the changing of the game and outcome. The Magpies can still claim fourth place if results go there way but ideally they will need to win at Everton. Regardless of their finish it is still a remarkable campaign."



Sunday 6th May 2012

Barclays Premier League

St James's Park (Tyneside)

Newcastle United 0-2 Manchester City                            KO 1:30pm            Sky Sports 1/HD1              (HT 0-0)

                              Yaya Toure 70, 89

 

Newcastle:  26 Krul- 8/10, 14 Perch- 6.5/10 (Ferguson 74- 2.5/10), 2 Coloccini (C)- 8/10, 6 Williamson- 8/10, 3 Santon- 7.5/10, 4 Cabaye- 6.5/10, 18 Gutierrez- 7.5/10, 24 Tiote- 7.5/10 (R Taylor 82- 2/10), 10 Ben Arfa- 7/10 (Shola Ameobi 74- 2.5/10), 9 Cisse- 7.5/10, 19 Ba- 7.5/10.

Subs not used:  35 Elliot, 15 Gosling, 22 Marveaux, 25 Obertan

Booked:      Ben Arfa (26), Tiote (32), Perch (36), Ferguson (80)

 

Manchester City:  25 Hart- 8.5/10, 5 Zabaleta- 7.5/10, 4 Kompany (C)- 8.5/10, 6 Lescott- 7.5/10, 22 Clichy- 7.5/10, 21 Silva- 8/10 (Richards 86- 2/10), 18 Barry- 7.5/10, 42 Yaya Toure- 9/10, 19 Nasri- 7/10 (De Jong 61- 3.5/10), 16 Aguero- 7.5/10, 32 Tevez- 7/10 (Dzeko 70- 3.5/10).

Subs not used:  30 Pantilimon, 13 Kolarov, 7 Milner, 11 Johnson

Booked:      Barry (29), Yaya Toure (38), Zabaleta (79)

 

My Man of the Match:     Yaya Toure (Manchester City)- Rating 9/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:     Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United)- Rating 6.5/10

 

 

Referee: Howard Webb MBE (South Yorkshire)- 8.5/10
Attendance: 52,389 

 

 

Match Facts

Possession: Newcastle- 46%                  Manchester City- 54%

Shots: Newcastle- 14                    Manchester City- 19

Shots on target: Newcastle- 9                    Manchester City- 12

Shots off target: Newcastle- 5                    Manchester City- 7

Corners: Newcastle- 2                       Manchester City- 6

Fouls: Newcastle- 12                    Manchester City- 7

Offside: Newcastle- 1                         Manchester City- 3

Assists: Newcastle- None                     Manchester City- 2 (Aguero, Clichy)

 

 


Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew

"We knew the first goal was going to change everything and they got it. We didn't get it but we had a few chances to score. Once that goal went in, we had to push on and that opened us up a bit for them to get another on the counter attack. It was a great performance by my team and I cannot fault the efforts of the lads today. You have to say Manchester City were brilliant today and you knew they were going to go right to the end. When you can bring on one world star for another and that freshness just made the difference today. But it is never over in the race for the Premier League title, no matter who your opponents are. We have great potential at this football club and we have had a great season no matter where we finish in the table. We are back where we should be, we have tradition and history that few clubs can match. If we can win at Everton next week it will put massive pressure on Arsenal and Spurs. They have got to win now."

Click here to watch the interview with Magpies boss Alan Pardew after the match

 

 


Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini

"It is not finished yet that's for sure. They (United) still have two games to play. It is important that we get three points next week, we need a big effort - there is one game more to go. I think for us it should be a normal week in terms of preparations. We don't change nothing, QPR will be tough for us, they are fighting for relegation and will come positively no doubt. Nothing changes. It is ours to lose now though I think. It doesn't depend on other teams anymore which is important. Toure's first goal was very special, like the one he scored in the FA Cup Final for us last year. This one may be more important if we can finish the season off with the title. Newcastle are a good team and they play very good football, they have had a fantastic season. But we deserved to win today, we scored two goals and created three of four other chances to score more goals. Everyone played really well, the whole team played really well including Joe (Hart) who had some saves to make in the game."  

Click here to watch the interview with City boss Roberto Mancini after the match 

Click here for the thoughts of Manchester City's Yaya Toure following the game

 

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