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Manchester City climbed to the top of the Barclays Premier League with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Newcastle United at St James' Park.
Edin Dzeko put City ahead early on as the visitors made a bright start, but they met stiff resistance from a Newcastle side displaying all the mettle in defence and purpose in attack that had earned them victories over Chelsea and Manchester United this season. A disallowed goal for Cheick Tiote late in the first half also strengthened the hosts' resolve to get something out of a match which only eluded them in added time when they were caught out by Alvaro Negredo's breakway goal.
The result is City's 10th consecutive victory over Newcastle and lifts them a point clear of Chelsea at the summit of the table. City's successful day was, however, marred by an apparent knee injury to Samir Nasri, as the France midfielder was brought to ground by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa in the second half and had to be carried from the field on a stretcher.
Alan Pardew made three changes from Newcastle’s last Barclays Premier League outing, a 1-0 defeat by West Bromwich Albion on New Year’s Day, and handed Steven Taylor a first top-flight start since the opening day of the season at City. The visitors, who have endured a busy schedule of late with matches in the Barclays Premier League, FA Cup and Capital One Cup since the turn of the year, stuck with the in-form attacking duo of Negredo and Dzeko in the continued absence through injury of Sergio Aguero.
Manuel Pellegrini's men were quick out of the blocks, going ahead in the eighth minute through Dzeko. Aleksandar Kolarov found the Bosnian with a low cross from the left, allowing the forward to fire into the roof of the net from close range for his 13th goal of the season in all competitions and his second against Newcastle, having netted in City’s Capital One Cup victory at St James' Park in October.
City continued to dominate as Newcastle struggled to keep hold of possession, with Kolarov sending a dangerous ball across the face of goal and out of the reach of an outstretched Negredo leg, before the Spaniard headed over a Nasri cross.
Pardew's side started to settle as Taylor guided the ball wide of the left post from a corner and Yohan Cabaye blazed over from the tightest of angles. Tiote had the ball in the back of the City net moments later, drilling in a sensational effort from 20 yards out, but, after consultation with an assistant referee, the goal was ruled out for offside.
Joe Hart was called into action shortly before the hour as he dived to his right to deny a Cabaye effort, before getting down well to deny Loic Remy after the France striker was sent through on goal. Fernandinho headed against the crossbar for City, but Negredo had better fortune in stoppage time as he slotted into the back of the net after reacting quickest to Krul's save from his initial effort, the Spaniard's fifth goal in his last three matches.
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew: "We were so frustrated, we put in a hell of a performance – we were up against a great team, we couldn’t have played any better and we're so disappointed not to be level at half-time. I don't think 2-0 is a fair reflection of the game."
Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini: "Newcastle are a very tough team here – ask Man United and Chelsea. They have a direct style with pushing, grabbing and hard tackles. Everyone is talking about the amount of goals we score, we try to attack and be creative but I always say how important it is to defend well.
"Newcastle have a high intensity, to not allow us to play so today we didn’t have the possession but without the ball we had more goals and more clear chances. In that sense, we are improving, maybe at the start of the season we would have lost the game but we’re better now and we won."
|18 Jan 2014||v West Ham (A)|
|28 Jan 2014||v Norwich (A)|
|01 Feb 2014||v Sunderland (H)|
|08 Feb 2014||v Chelsea (A)|
|12 Feb 2014||v Spurs (H)|
|23 Feb 2014||v Aston Villa (H)|