David Silva and a late Sergio Aguero strike gave Manchester City’s Barclays Premier League title defence a winning start at Newcastle United.
Silva broke the deadlock just before half-time to finish a flowing move, before substitute Aguero came off the bench to finish at the second attempt in stoppage-time for a 2-0 win.
City, who are determined to learn the lessons after their failed defence two years ago, have been handed a difficult start with Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea awaiting in three of their next four games. The onus was on Manuel Pellegrini's men to hit the ground running at St James' Park and they did thanks to an impressive display, highlighted by some wonderful attacking play.
Newcastle had their chances, the best of which fell to Yoan Gouffran in the second half, but could not get back into the match. The sight of Aguero finding the net on his return to action after his recent injury problems will have given Pellegrini an added spring in his step.
The champions began well, some crisp passing ending with Edin Dzeko's poked volley being kept out by goalkeeper Tim Krul following a lovely chipped Stevan Jovetic pass. That set the tone for a dominant start, Samir Nasri stinging the hands of Krul with a half-volley from range.
Yet Newcastle gradually began to find their rhythm amid an emotional atmosphere with tributes both before and during the first half to remember supporters Liam Sweeney and John Alder, who lost their lives in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash in Ukraine.
New signing Remy Cabella was bright for the home side, chipping just over the crossbar. But he and his team-mates could do little as City took the lead with a stunning goal in the 39th minute. A searching ball forward found Dzeko, whose superb back-heel left Silva with the simplest of finishes.
Newcastle responded well after half-time, a deep corner finding Gouffran, whose effort drew a smart save from Joe Hart in the Manchester City goal. The hosts' industry continued, too, with Paul Dummett heading just over in between three Jovetic half-chances. The best of those came when the forward was denied by a superb Fabricio Coloccini block as City threatened a second goal. Jovetic was also instrumental in City's next opening, sending over a clever pass that Dzeko headed narrowly over with 27 minutes left.
Suddenly back on top, the visitors continued to press forward, with Yaya Toure's free-kick narrowly missing the target late on. That effort preceded a spell of home pressure as Alan Pardew's side did everything in their power to get back into the game, substitute Ayoze Perez seeing an effort deflect agonisingly wide.
Newcastle spurned a better chance, as Moussa Sissoko blazed over from just outside the area. City made them pay, with Aguero, who was on as an 83rd-minute replacement for Dzeko, curling home after his initial effort had been saved by Krul.
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew: "It was frustrating for us. In the second half we pushed on and brought some younger players on. It was a shame we couldn't get the equaliser [before Aguero's late second for City]. I felt that if we got that we could even have gone on to win it.
"We were brave and went for it, but we pushed and you know with their [City's] quality they can get that second goal. We have goals in the squad. We were a bit unfortunate today not to get something from the game but it was a real solid performance from the team against real quality. In the end, the quality just won."
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini: "It's always important to start the season winning, especially at a place like St James' Park. It was so important for me to have the attitude from the players right from the beginning to the end of the game."
"We're not thinking about the start of the season. We were just thinking about Newcastle. Now we can think about Liverpool. All of the teams have to play against all of the other teams home and away. We started with a win and now we can see if we can win the second one."
|30 Aug 2014||v Crystal Palace (H)|
|20 Sep 2014||v Hull (H)|
|18 Oct 2014||v Leicester (H)|
|13 Sep 2014||v Southampton (A)|
|29 Sep 2014||v Stoke (A)|
|04 Oct 2014||v Swansea (A)|