A tentative Manchester City let their single goal lead slip to lose at Newcastle, after scoring the fastest goal of the season as the Citizens lost the first of what Pep Guardiola described as “15 finals”.
Newcastle’s game plan ruined within 30 seconds
It took a meagre 24 seconds for Sergio Aguero to undo an entire weeks worth of Newcastle preparation. The Argentinian was the benefactor of David Silva’s bravery who cushioned a header across the box for a tap in with the Blue’s first attack.
Aguero was later unfortunate to have a goal disallowed, as Kevin De Bruyne was penalised for taking a free kick before referee Paul Tierney had blown his whistle. The striker may not have been at his clinical best, but he notched yet another goal against the Magpies; something that is becoming second nature to him as he coped competently against three central defenders.
Most other strikers would have been rendered ineffective when so vastly outnumbered. However, the Argentinian had the intelligence to drop in front of Newcastle’s defensive line to generate space for himself, while this also allowed both wingers and central midfielders to break past him. Usually, this would be an effective strategy at holding up play and bringing others into the game, despite his slight stature, though City were uncharacteristically lethargic against the Magpies.
Hosts grasp surprise chance to seal three points
Salomon Rondon spent his Tuesday evening tirelessly chasing lost causes and attempting to keep pace with Christian Atsu and Ayoze Perez. For most of the night it appeared his efforts might go to waste as Manchester City monopolised possession and Newcastle were unable to deliver any quality into the box for Rondon to aerially threaten the champions.
Though around the hour mark, after Matt Ritchie’s delivery was headed back into the area, the Venezuelan outmuscled all those who surrounded him in the area to tuck away a volley akin to Aguero’s.
The opportunity arose through Newcastle playing to their strengths but it was allowed to be converted due to underwhelming Manchester City defending, nobody in blue committed to closing the striker down who presented the only realistic goal threat.
Had Rafael Benitez been offered a draw before the game he likely would have bitten your hand off for it. However, one of Fernandinho’s worst Premier League performances was typified by conceding a penalty that gave Newcastle the opportunity to snatch all three points with just 10 minutes remaining.
After what must have been an agonisingly long wait Matt Ritchie stepped up to convert, in turn, sealing victory whilst changing fortunes at either end of the table.
Newcastle are now five points clear of the drop in 14th place, while Liverpool have been presented with an opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the table to seven points when they face Leicester City.
A game that bucked the statistical trend
Manchester City have been nothing short of marvellous since the turn of the year, they’ve now racked up 31 goals in January alone and conceded just three. Sadly though, the uneven spread of those goals scored and conceded meant that Pep Guardiola’s 100th Premier League game at the helm ended in defeat and the title may be ever so slightly out of reach.
As well as this, Guardiola will be disappointed to know his side let slip the opportunity to break Jose Mourinho’s record of most wins in their opening Premier League century, and both managers remain deadlocked on 72.
Meanwhile, Newcastle were able to quell what had previously been a wretched record against the Premier League top-six, prior to today they hadn’t picked up a single point all season against the leagues best sides.
As well as this the Magpies came back to win a game for the first time this season, on 12 previous occasions, they had gone behind in the Premier League all ended in defeat.
Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero
Despite finishing on the losing side, Manchester City’s record goalscorer provided the only solace for the Sky Blue’s supporters. The striker’s movement was exceptional and proved that even as a lone striker he’s more than capable of troubling any manner of defensive setup designed to thawt him.
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