NEWCASTLE United’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League were dealt a blow by Manchester City this afternoon, writes Miles Starforth.
Alan Pardew’s side were beaten 2-0 at the Sports Direct Arena by the Premier League leaders.
After a goalless first-half, Yaya Toure struck twice after the break to see off Newcastle, who remain fifth in the league with one game left to play.
Newcastle started well, but City soon had them pinned back, though they struggled to unpick a deep and organised defence.
At the other end, Papiss Demba Cisse, who scored two stunning goals in the midweek win over Chelsea, was well-marked by visiting captain Vicent Kompany.
United’s first real chance came in the 29th-minute. Hatem Ben Arfa broke down the right and he rolled the ball to Demba Ba, who put his shot over the bar.
Jonas Gutierrez tore down the left five minutes later and Cisse left his cross for Ba, whose shot was blocked. Ben Arfa seized the loose ball, but Joe Hart was equal to his effort.
Chances came and went at both ends and the most dramatic of all saw Davide Santon stop a Gareth Barry effort on the line four minutes before the break.
The half wasn’t ill-tempered, but Howard Webb angered both sides by showing five yellow cards for a succession of largely innocuous tackles.
Neither manager made a change at the break and the stalemate continued.
The introduction of Nigel De Jong – who broke Ben Arfa’s leg in a meeting between the two sides last season – was greeted by boos.
Newcastle were camped deep in City’s half for long spells, but Ben Arfa put a chance wide in the 65th minute in a rare foray forward for Pardew’s team.
Next on was Edin Dzeko, the striker replacing Carlos Tevez with 20 minutes left on the clock.
City’s breakthrough came moments after his introduction, with Yaya Toure stroking the ball past Tim Krul after Sergio Aguero played him in on the edge of United’s box.
Pardew responded by sending on Shola Ameobi and Shane Ferguson for Ben Arfa and James Perch.
Ameobi teed up Cisse for a shot, but his header flew wide and try as they might, United could not conjure up a goal.
And Toure sealed the win for City a minute from time with a goal from a quick break upfield.
Newcastle: Krul, Perch (Ferguson 74), Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Ben Arfa (Shola Ameobi 74), Cabaye, Tiote (Ryan Taylor 82), Gutierrez, Cisse, Ba. Subs Not Used: Elliot, Gosling, Marveaux, Obertan. Booked: Ben Arfa, Tiote, Perch, Ferguson.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, Clichy, Nasri (De Jong 61), Toure Yaya, Barry, Silva (Richards 86), Aguero, Tevez (Dzeko 70). Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Milner, Johnson, Kolarov. Booked: Barry, Toure Yaya, Zabaleta. Goals: Toure Yaya 70, 89.
Att: 52,389 Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).