Newcastle United remain perilously close to the Premier League’s relegation zone after Manchester City ran out 3-1 winners at St James’s Park, writes Miles Starforth.
Goals from Sergio Aguero, Javi Garcia and Yaya Toure saw the champions take all three points.
But Roberto Mancini’s side had to work hard for their victory, especially in the second half during a long spell of pressure from Newcastle, who were without the injured Hatem Ben Arfa.
Newcastle, trailing by two first-half goals, were given hope after the break when Demba Ba scored his 11th goal of the season.
But Toure ended the hosts’ hopes of a comeback by scoring a third goal late in the game.
The result left Alan Pardew’s team just two points above the bottom three ahead of this afternoon’s games.
Newcastle started well – and Joe Hart made a fine low save to deny Papiss Demba Cisse – but they were behind in the 10th minute.
A superb pass forward from Toure played in Samir Nasri, whose crossed left Aguero with the simplest of tap-ins.
City went on to dominate the half, with the pace and movement of Nasri, Ageuro and Carlos Tevez wrecking havoc in Newcastle’s half.
Tim Krul stopped a close-range shot from Tevez in the 13th minute, and Nasri struck the post. Aguero got to the rebound, but Mike Williamson stopped his effort.
Williamson, still without a United goal, forced a save from Hart with a volley at the other end in the 25th minute.
Given the run of play, Pardew would have been happy to get to the break with his team trailing by just one goal, but City extended their lead in the 39th minute.
Garcia met a David Silva corner, and David Santon, guarding the right-hand post, couldn’t stop his header crossing the line.
The game looked all but over at the interval, such was City’s dominance.
But Newcastle showed a determination to stay in the game after the break which bodes well for the coming weeks and months.
Ba pulled a goal back with a header from a Fabricio Coloccini cross after a spell of pressure, the strike his 11th of the season.
City struggled to rediscover their attacking fluency, and it was United’s turn to impose themselves on the game.
However, a goal wouldn’t come, and Toure made certain of all three points with a neat finish from a low Pablo Zabaleta cross 12 minutes from time.
Newcastle go into the home game against Queens Park Rangers a week today having just won one of their last 11 games.
NEWCASTLE: Krul; Simpson (Ferguson, 83), Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Anita, Perch, Tiote (Marveaux, 75); Cisse (Shola Ameobi, 79), Ba, Gutierrez. Subs not used: Elliot, Bigirimana, Sammy Ameobi, Tavernier.
MANCHESTER CITY: Hart; Zabaleta, K Toure, Nastasic, Clichy; Nasri, Y Toure, Garcia, Silva; Nasri (Kolarov, 37, Dzeko, 72), Tevez (Lescott, 79), Aguero. Subs not used: Pantilmon, Rekik, Razak, Sinclair.
Goals: Aguero 10, Garcia 39, Ba 51, Y Toure 78
Bookings: Williamson 15, Simpson 27, Ageuro 37, K Toure 55, Perch 55
Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)
Attendance: 49,579 (2,718 Man City)