YOHAN Cabaye insists Newcastle United won’t give up on their Champions League dream until the last ball has been kicked this season.
Cabaye and his team-mates were beaten at the Sports Direct Arena yesterday by Premier League leaders Manchester City, leaving Alan Pardew’s side fifth in the Premier League with one game left to play at Everton on Sunday.
However, a win at Goodison Park – and defeats for Tottenham (home to Fulham) or Arsenal (away to West Brom) above them – would see the Magpies qualify for the Champions League should Chelsea lose this season’s final against Bayern Munich.
“It’s going to be a difficult match against Everton, and we must give everything,” Cabaye said. “We knew even if we won against Manchester City, we would have to win at Everton.
“It’s been a very, very good season. We’ve played brilliantly again and it’s been a great season.
There’s one match left, and we must try our hardest to try and get as high up the table as we can.”
The game swung back and forth until Yaya Toure’s 70th-minute opener, and as Newcastle pressed for an equaliser, they were undone by a quick breakaway, with the powerful midfielder, pushed further forward after Nigel De Jong’s introduction, again finding the net.
“It wasn’t enough in the end,” added Cabaye. “We tried everything, and although we lost, we weren’t disappointed with the performance. We gave everything.”
City arrived knowing victory was a must if they are to pip arch-rivals United to the title, but Newcastle flew out of the blocks to pin the visitors back inside their own half, although without ever looking like troubling keeper Joe Hart.
But as the half wore on, City’s class and guile saw them gradually ease into a position of dominance.
With Carlos Tevez and David Silva targeting right-back James Perch, they threatened to open the scoring on several occasions before the break.
Perch and Yohan Cabaye blocked shots from Samir Nasri and Toure in quick succession and Krul produced excellent saves to deny first Silva and then Aguero from close range inside the opening 17 minutes.
Newcastle were sinking ever deeper towards their own goalline in an effort to keep City at bay, but from somewhere, they found the strength to first stem the tide, and then turn it in their direction.
Demba Ba, without a goal in 12 games, sent a 29th-minute shot on the turn just over after Hatem Ben Arfa’s spring-heeled run down the right and then saw another snapshot blocked by Gael Clichy before Ben Arfa forced a superb diving save from Hart from the rebound.
However, it took heroic blocks from first Fabricio Coloccini and then Davide Santon to keep out Gareth Barry four minutes before the break.
Such was Newcastle’s determination not to concede that winger Gutierrez turned up inside his own penalty area to head Silva’s 53rd-minute cross clear, and Krul had to make a smart save from Tevez’s snapshot from distance.
But with the pace of Ben Arfa and Cisse worrying City on the break, Newcastle not only managed to keep them out, but to press them back.
Mancini decided the time for change had arrived and with 62 minutes gone, replaced Nasri with Nigel de Jong, the man whose tackle last season left Ben Arfa with a double leg fracture, a fact which had obviously not been forgotten by the home fans.
Ben Arfa almost provided the Dutchman with the perfect welcome within three minutes when, after being picked out by Ba, he twisted and turned his way in on goal, only to screw his right-foot shot wide.
De Jong’s arrival allowed Toure to push further forward, and the move paid dividends with 20 minutes remaining.
Seconds after Edin Dzeko had replaced Tevez, Toure exchanged passes with Aguero 25 yards out and smashed a dipping right-foot shot past Krul and into the bottom corner.
It should have been all over within five minutes when Silva played in Aguero over the top, but with just Krul to beat, he side-footed wide.
Toure should have made sure six minutes from time, but fell over as he attempted to round Krul, who managed to touch over Aguero’s follow-up.
But the powerhouse midfielder wrapped up the points with a minute remaining when he accepted Clichy’s pass six yards out and beat Krul to end Newcastle’s hopes of a fightback.
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. Att: 52,389 Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).