5 things we learned from Newcastle's 1-1 draw with Manchester City


Newcastle and Manchester City shared a pulsating 1-1 draw at St James' Park on Tuesday night, but the result did little to enhance either side's hopes of a successful end to the season.

City's Barclays Premier League title hopes are all but mathematically over and they continue to be far from certain of a top-four finish, while the Magpies missed the opportunity to clamber out of the drop zone.

Here, Press Association Sport picks out some of the key pointers from the evening's action:

1. Benitez has brought back the belief.


Hopes Rafael Benitez would prove an instant saviour when he swept into St James' Park were swiftly dismissed in an inauspicious start to his reign - but the signs are the Spaniard is beginning to make a difference.

Subtle changes in tactics and personnel have clearly brought some degree of belief back to his beleaguered team - and, equally importantly, the supporters have seized on that sense of hope and seem intent on getting behind their team during their increasingly desperate battle for survival.

2. De Bruyne is a class apart.

It's tempting to consider just where Manchester City might be this season had it not been for Kevin De Bruyne's injury-enforced absence.

The Belgian produced yet another master-class on Tyneside, his patience and incisive vision setting up more of his side's forays forward.

De Bruyne's return to prominence is timely as City eye a place in the Champions League final - and it is no coincidence that his impact is also being felt in City's quest to confirm their place in the Premier League's top four before the season's end.

3. Tiote can make his mark.


Cheick Tiote seemed destined to be relegated to the role of St James' Park also-ran during the respective tenures of John Carver and Steve McClaren.

Many questioned why such a potentially fiery influence was being kept on the sidelines, and Benitez has been quick to bring him in from the cold.

Tiote has kept January signing Jonjo Shelvey on the bench for the last two games, and his impact has been obvious. Tiote's tenacity and general desire to make a difference made him one of the stand-out players on the night, and he will surely play a crucial role if his side are to retain their top-flight status.

4. City are still fighting on all fronts.

city celebrating

Many have been quick to write off Manuel Pellegrini as he approaches the end of his Manchester City tenure, but the Chilean has stayed cool and looks set to have the last word as his side do battle on both league and Champions League fronts.

The serious threat of dropping out of the top four looks to have eased, while their two-legged win over Paris St Germain takes them one step closer to history when they face off with Real Madrid.

5. Sissoko is another Magpies star.

Much was expected of Moussa Sissoko shortly after his arrival at St James' Park - at one point, it seemed bigger clubs were queueing up to whisk him away in various reported big-money deals. But Sissoko's form plunged and in many ways was indicative of his side's desperate battle at the foot of the table.

Again, Benitez's influence has made a big difference. Instead of discarding the midfielder, he afforded him the extra responsibility of the captaincy - and Sissoko has duly responded with arguably two of his best displays of the campaign.