Manchester City shrugged aside a highly defensive Newcastle team thanks to goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres, with the 2-0 scoreline about as comfortable as it could have been.
In horrendous weather conditions, City had far too much for the away side to cope with, and were probably unlucky to not be rewarded with a higher margin of victory for their efforts.
Newcastle actually started the game well, with a good amount of possession and territory, with City failing to showcase much of the controlled play they are renowned for. However, with their first shot, the home side took the lead.
When Kevin de Bruyne played the ball to Joao Cancelo in a central area outside the box, there did not appear to be much danger. That was, until the fullback slipped a brilliant ball inside wingback Matt Ritchie to Raheem Sterling, taking out the entire defence with one pass. Sterling chopped inside, waited a good five seconds, and then chose to square it to the arriving Ilkay Gundogan who precisely finished past four defenders on the line.
From that 14th minute goal onwards, the game started to settle into the expected pattern. Newcastle had a double-decker bus across their goal, and it was up to City to find a way through.
De Bruyne almost scored a clever chip from the flank shortly after, with Karl Darlow doing well to paw away the attempt, before a stray pass saw Ferran Torres on the ball in a 2v2 with the Newcastle defence. Torres chose to go alone, cutting inside Fabian Schar, but his shot was poor and resulted in an easy save.
No further chance of note materialised until the 35th minute, but when it did, City really should have gone two goals up.
A clearance somehow found Torres and de Bruyne against one defender, with Torres doing well to first-time volley the ball over the top for de Bruyne, who found himself clean through on goal. However, the Belgian waited for a square pass to appear for too long and, by the time he decided to shoot, Darlow was in a position to block at the midfielder’s feet.
Half time: Manchester City 1-0 Newcastle
The second half saw more attempts in the first 10 minutes than there had been in the entire first half. First, a de Bruyne freekick was met by an unmarked John Stones on the penalty spot, but for some reason he chose to head towards the back post instead of for goal and the chance was gone.
Newcastle instantly went up the other end and finally brought Ederson into action, the keeper saving Jacob Murphy’s low shot from a tight angle. The away side may have hoped to draw encouragement from this, but moments later City doubled their advantage.
Unlike many Pep Guardiola goals, this one was a mess.
After de Bruyne and then Rodri had shots blocked on the edge of the box, the ball looped towards Almiron on the corner of the penalty area. Inexplicably, the winger allowed the excellent Joao Cancelo to get ahead of him and bring the ball down to fire across goal. Even then, the ball should have been cleared by Federico Fernandez, but he instead deflected the ball to the grateful Torres on the penalty spot to double the lead.
Cancelo was an absolute menace down the right flank, and with his next involvement he drilled in a cross which found Sterling with a tap-in from all of three yards. Somehow, he completely missed the ball with his right foot, with the ball bouncing off his leg to Bernardo Silva who rattled the post from a tight angle.
Jacob Murphy tried his best to singlehandedly drag Newcastle back into the game, but first effort from range curled just over before another good attempt was well kept out by Ederson at full stretch. However, Newcastle never really looked like getting back into the game, with the negative game plan seemingly inhibiting later attempts to press higher up the pitch.
The home side almost made it three before the end, as Cancelo once again put in a peach of a cross to a blue shirt, but substitute Sergio Aguero’s back post shot was excellently kept out by Darlow.
As the whistle sounded, City could be content with an utterly dominant performance that sees them up to 5th in the league and with a game in hand on several teams above them. Newcastle will hope to improve against Liverpool next time out, but any repeat of tonight’s attempts will surely see them on the end of another defeat.
Full time: Manchester City 2-0 Newcastle
Man of the Match: Joao Cancelo
The easiest choice of the season. Words would not do justice to just how good he was tonight. The quality of his final ball could have been mistaken for that of City’s talismanic Belgian playmaker, and he was at the heart of almost everything going forward in the second half. A truly wonderful performance by a player who has now fully found his Premier League feet.